Immigration Deputy Commisioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles present to media P30 million in cash, which they admitted accepting and keeping purportedly as part of an investigation against Macau-based businessman Jack Lam. EDD GUMBAN, file

Duterte fires frat brods, Immigration intel chief over bribery scandal
Alexis Romero ( - December 17, 2016 - 11:34am
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has fired three immigration officials, including two of his fraternity brothers, after they were tagged in a multimillion peso bribe scandal involving a Chinese casino operator.
Duterte said his order to dismiss Immigration Deputy Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles was in line with his promise to stop corruption. Argosino, Robles and Duterte are members of the San Beda College of Law’s Lex Talionis Fraternitas. 
“Consistent with this electoral campaign, I have directed the dismissal of the two associate commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration who are now tainted with corruption. They will be held accountable for their actions. They will face the full force of the law,” Duterte said in a speech delivered in Davao City upon his arrival from Singapore.
The president also ordered the dismissal of the bureau’s intelligence chief Charles Calima Jr.
“One of them is a retired general. The two lawyers (will also be dismissed) and you know what? They are my fraternity brothers, if you must know. They’re from San Beda and they are my fraternity brothers. But I told (presidential assistant) Bong Go, tell them to resign. You’re fired,” he said.
Argosino and Robles announced their resignation on Friday night.
When asked on the chances of the immigration officials would be reinstated, Duterte replied: “Not in a million, not in a million. Let the law take its course. Tutal ginawa mo ‘yan eh di pasensiya ka (You did that, so face the consequences).”
“So the law is the law and I told everyone, including my relatives, do not do it. If you want a legitimate business, do it right and everything is okay,” he added.
Argosino and Robles were accused of extorting P50 million from the camp of Chinese gaming operator Jack Lam, who allegedly resorted to bribery to secure the release of more than 1,300 undocumented Chinese nationals working for him.
Last Tuesday, Argosino and Robles surrendered P30 million out of the P50 million they received from Lam’s camp. The two, however, denied that they were involved in extortion and claimed that they were just framed up while conducting an investigation.  
Argosino and Robles said the P18 million went to Calima while the P2 million was given to retired police chief superintendent Wally Sombero, who was accused of being the middleman of the transaction. 
The P30 million surrendered by the two immigration officials would be temporarily deposited in a bank for safekeeping. 
Duterte also announced that the government would be sequestering the properties of Lam, whom he accused of cheating on his taxes.
“I am sequestering, ordering the sequestering of properties. And maybe, I can get as much as I want because – well, (Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar) Dulay and everybody says that we’ve been cheated on for so long,” the president said.
“He talks as if all officials are in his pocket because he was into corruption. I got pissed off, and I said arrest him. And they say he has no case, never mind. There is no case, there is no case. We will find a case and I’m just sorry that he was able to leave the country three days before,” he added.
“I told them: Arrest him, detain him in the most foul-smelling precinct.”
Duterte said Lam, who operates at Fontana Leisure Park and Casino in Clark, Pampanga and left for Hong Kong days before he was ordered arrested, has expressed his intention to return to the country to settle his obligations.
“So that this is the warning to everybody: If you have proof that you are bribing anybody or if anyone in the government is asking money from you…report it to me immediately and I will protect you… if you tell me the truth,” Duterte said.
“Do not corrupt people. If you are into corruption, go out of business for a while. Anyway I’m just here for six years. After that, you can have your way again. I really don’t mind, in fairness to the one (who’s) succeeding. But for now I said I’m going to give the Philippines a respite of the corruption all of these years.”

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