MANILA, Philippines—Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Sunday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the alleged ‘payoffs’ between senior Bureau of Immigration officials and Macau gambling tycoon Jack Lam.
In a press conference yesterday, Aguirre said that reports showed senior BI officials received bribes for the release of undocumented Chinese nationals working at Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Pampanga, a property owned by Lam.
“We will leave no stone unturned and there will be no sacred cows. We will hold those found responsible accountable. Corruption of any kind has no place in the DOJ family,” Aguirre said.
“President Duterte’s marching order to us is very clear: absolutely no corruption. This mandate will be relentlessly pursued,” he added.
According to reports cited by Aguirre, arrested Chinese nationals offered some BI officials P100, 000 to P200, 000 for the release of each detainees.
On December 1, 57 of the 1, 240 arrested Chinese nationals connected to Lam flee their temporary detention facility at Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino. 35 of them returned after receiving a word from the Chinese Embassy where they were told that their cases are being handled while 27 were hunted down by the police and immigration authorities.
Aguirre said that this could not have happened without help from authorities.
The undocumented Chinese nationals were arrested on November 25 for illegally working in an online gambling den inside Lam’s Fontana.
According to Aguirre, Lam is the biggest online gambling operator in the country. He added that Lam doesn’t have a permit to operate from Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).
In an earlier statement, Aguirre revealed that Lam, through retired Chief Superintendent Wally Sombero, tried to bribe him and Pagcor chair Andrea Domingo.
Lam, through his laywer, Raymond Fortun, denied this allegations. Fortun also insisted that his client has the necessary permits to operate businesses in the Philippines.
On December 3, Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa announced Duterte’s order for all PNP units to arrest Lam.
Lam, however, has flee the country four days before an arrest warrant against him was issued.