MANILA—For Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, it is obvious that the two former officials of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) linked to the PHP50 million bribery scandal are feigning innocence and are trying make people buy their story.
“…Sa tingin ko at pakikinig ko at demeanor ng testigo talagang nanghingi, talagang binigyan, talagang tumanggap. At liwanagin ko, hindi po ako bully na nagpaiyak, kusang loob ho siyang umiyak non,” Escudero told reporters in an interview.
(“Based on my observation on the demeanor of the witness, it looks like he really asked, he was really given, he really accepted. And let me make myself clear, I’m not a bully who makes people cry. He cried on his own.”)
Escudero was referring to one of the resource persons, ex-BI associate commissioner Al Argosino, who broke into tears after interrogation from the former during the second hearing into the bribery scandal on Tuesday.
Argosino and fellow ex-BI associate commissioner Michael Robles were caught on CCTV in a casino receiving paper bags which contained millions of pesos from Macau-based gaming tycoon Jack Lam through his middleman, retired police Senior Supt. Wally Sombero Jr.
The two officials, however, insisted that they never asked for money even once and were merely being framed up by Immigration Intelligence Chief, retired police Director Charles Calima who also wanted a share from the bribe.
Calima was reportedly tipped by Sombero that there were CCTV recordings of the two ex-BI officials receiving the bribe.
“Tingin ko obligado lang naman sila mag-imbento ng kwento para may mapaliwanag sila sa anak nila, sa asawa nila, sa magulang nila, sa kamag-anak o kaibigan nila. Kahit alam nilang hindi tatanggapin marahil ang maniniwala lang sa kanila ang tunay na malapit sa kanila tulad ng nabanggit ko pero klaro’t maliwanag hindi totoo yung kanilang sinasabi at nagsisinungaling sila,” Escudero said.
Lacson said he refused to consider Robles as a “victim” despite only being dragged by Argosino to meet Sombero pointing out that he served as a “willing accomplice” because he knew what was inside the paper bags.
He also said that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II is not yet off the hook despite his claim that Sombero has already cleared him.
The senator, however, said that he would rather wait for Sombero to show up in the next Senate hearing to get some answers.