MANILA—Five agents of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are now under investigation after they were tagged as protector of Filipino-Chinese businessman Charlie “Atong” Ang.
This was bared by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday as he has ordered the NBI to conduct investigation on their colleagues.
“Totoo yon. May mga NBI agents na kanyang protektor. Hawak na n’ya noon pa at up to now ka-contact niya ‘yan,” Aguirre told reporters adding he already knew the identities of the NBI agents but refused to disclose their names pending investigation.
“I’m having them investigated and we will make the proper moves. An NBI insider gave me their names,” he noted.
When asked about the plan of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV to conduct Senate inquiry on the matter, the Justice secretary said he sees no problem with it.
But Aguirre tagged Trillanes and Ang as both part of plot to destabilize the Duterte administration.
“It’s obvious that these people talk to each other. Right after Atong Ang made his allegations in media interview comes the senator calling for Senate investigation,” Aguirred said.
Aguirre also asked the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to look into Ang’s company, the Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation, for possible tax violations.
In a letter dated May 2, Aguirre asked BIR Commissioner Cesar Dulay to look into the matter, saying his office has the authority to do so in cases where the Tax Code might have been possibly violated.
“Pursuant to the provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended, the Department is hereby seeking the assistance of the BIR, as the administrator of the supervisory and police power conferred by the NIRC and other laws as well as within the powers conferred to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to initiate investigations for possible violations of the country’s tax laws of Mr. Charlie Ang and Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation,” Aguirre said in his letter to Dulay.
“I trust that greater cooperation and confidence between the Department of Justice and the BIR will be forthcoming in our government’s efforts to curb corruption and criminality in the country, particularly in cases of tax evasion,” Aguirre added.
Aguirre earlier said Ang was running a gambling business through his company without paying taxes to the government and that Meridien also lacked a franchise to operate a Small Town Lottery unit by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
Aguirre earlier directed the NBI to to conduct an investigation and case build-up over the accusations of Ang that he and and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. were plotting to him through the NBI to eliminate the gambling operations of his Meridien Vista Gaming Corp.
Aguirre has already denied the allegation, branding it as “demolition job against me, in conspiracy with the destabilizers of the Duterte administration.”
Aguirre dared Ang to file a case against them or seek an investigation.
“His only evidence was a phone call while he was cockfighting in Cagayan De Oro when told that he should leave because someone is out to kill him,” Aguirre said.
“Para lang mabigyan ng pera tatawag ‘sir Atong gusto ka ipapatay ni Aguirre.’ Ikaw naman akala mo totoong totoo…Bakit ako mag-aaksaya ng panahon sa kanya napakaraming trabaho sa DOJ,” said Aguirre.
“Hindi ko trabaho magpapatay. Ako po mula sa pagkabata hinubog ng magulang na magkaroon ng takot sa Diyos,” he added.
The DOJ chief believes that Ang was retaliating after he led the raid on Fontana Leisure Park that busted the billion-peso online illegal gambling operation that was being conducted thereat by his business partner and best friend Jack Lam.
Ang has accused Aguirre of wanting to eliminate him so that his brother, Ogie Aguirre, will have an unhampered control of STL operations from Batangas to the Bicol region.
He also claimed that the PCSO wants Meridien stopped because of conflicts with the STL operations.
Aguirre earlier admitted that his brother was talking to some local officials to be able to operate STL.
But Aguirre clarified that his brother has no involvement at all in STL operations.
“Yung kapatid ko hindi involved sa application of STL. Tinanong ko ang kapatid ko kung nag-apply hindi pala,” he said.
Asked if his brother will still pursue business in STL, Aguirre advice his brother “papayuhan ko lang siya basta’t ang sa akin, legal lang natural lang na ang isang tao kung talgang gusto maghanapbuhay.”
Aguirre said Ang is simply afraid because he could lose his source of income that brings him earnings of up to PHP50-million a day.
Ang is the owner of Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation (MVGC). It operates a jai-alai fronton in Sta. Ana, Cagayan and whose franchise was granted by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) during the Arroyo administration.