MANILA—After failing to face the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee for the third time, Sen. Leila de Lima on Thursday moved to cite retired Police Senior Supt. Wally Sombero, alleged middleman of Macau-based gambling tycoon Jack Lam, in contempt.
De Lima said that she did not buy the story of Sombero, who, through his lawyer, said that he failed to return to the Philippines from Vancouver because of health reasons.
Sombero was supposed to attend the Senate panel probe into the alleged PHP50-million bribery scandal involving officials of the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
According to ex-BI associate commissioners and lawyers Al Argosino and Michael Robles, Sombero gave them paper bags with millions of pesos in exchange for the release of over 1,000 illegal Chinese workers arrested in Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga.
Sombero’s lawyer said that his client was supposed to return to Manila to attend the Senate probe via flight Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight PR 199 but was not allowed to leave because of “sweating and shortness of breath.”
Sombero, who was earlier issued an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO), claimed he was advised to see a cardiologist.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said that he was prone to accepting De Lima’s motion but deferred it due to “humanitarian reasons.”
“I defer action for the moment because we don’t want to be painted to the public that we are hard-hearted here,” Gordon said.
He said that he will ask Sombero’s lawyer to provide the Senate panel with a copy of his client’s medical certificate.