Former police Chief Superintendent Wally Sombero holds a copy of the complaint on the graft case he filed against Immigration Deputy Commissioners Michael Robles and Al Argosino at the Office of the Ombudsman.
The STAR/Michael Vargas, File photo
Ex-BI commissioners, Sombero to remain at Camp Bagong Diwa
Elizabeth Marcelo ( - April 20, 2018 - 6:13pm

MANILA, Philippines — Former Bureau of Immigration commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles, as well as retired police officer Wenceslao “Wally” Sombero Jr., would have to remain at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig pending the trial of their plunder case in connection with the alleged P50-million extortion on gambling tycoon Jack Lam.

In a minute resolution promulgated on April 17, released to the media Friday, the Sixth Division of the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has denied the motion of Sombero seeking his transfer of detention to the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

The court noted that Argosino and Robles have already withdrew their joint motion also seeking their transfer to the PNP Custodial Center.

“The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) is hereby directed to take the necessary measure to ensure the safety and security of accused Argosino, Robles and Sombero while in custody at Camp Bagong Diwa, in accordance with Republic Act 6975 (Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990),” the court said.

Argosino and Robles withdrew their motion a few days after the PNP Custodial Service Unit manifested before the court its objection on the three former law enforcers' requested transfer of detention.

In an opposition paper submitted to the Sixth Division on April 11, PNP Custodial Service Unit head Police Chief Inspector Romulo Flores II said Argosino, Robles and Sombero's transfer to the PNP Custodial Center would entail additional expenses and resources on the part of the government.

In its ruling, the Sixth Division also gave weight on Flores argument that the PNP Custodial Center is not a regular detention facility.

The court agreed with Flores that the PNP Custodial Center must only accommodate “arrested suspects on a temporary or transient basis while they are undergoing custodial investigation, or their case is undergoing preliminary investigation and while their transfer to an appropriate detention facility is being processed.”

The court maintained that under the Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990, it is the BJMP that has the primary function of management and supervision of jail facilities and safekeeping of detention prisoners.

In their joint motion filed early this month, Argosino and Robles said that by being fraternity brothers of President Rodrigo Duterte at the Les Talionis, they may be exposed to possible attacks by the drugs suspects detained at Camp Bagong Diwa “as an act of reprisal to the war on drugs of the government.”

Argosino said he is also suffering from diabetes and hypertension, thus, it is not advisable for him to be detained in the overcrowded jail facility of the Quezon City Jail Annex in Camp Bagong Diwa.

In his separate motion, Sombero said that in his 27 years in the police service, he headed several task forces that led to the arrest and detention of members of high-profile crime syndicates. Sombero said these criminals, who are now detained at Camp Bagong Diwa might get back at him.

Argosino, Robles and Sombero are detained at Camp Bagong Diwa for the non-bailable case of plunder over their alleged extortion of P50 million from gambling tycoon Jack Lam in 2016.

They are also facing cases of graft, direct bribery and violation of Presidential Decree 46, which prohibits public officials from receiving gifts or money from a private person.

Filed by the ombudsman on March 23, the cases stemmed from Argosino and Robles' alleged receipt of a total of P50-million bribe money from Lam in exchange for the release of 1,316 Chinese nationals working at the latter's Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga.

The Chinese nationals were arrested by the BI on Nov. 24, 2016 for charges of overstaying and violations of immigration laws.

The ombudsman said the bribe money was handed by Sombero to Argosino and Robles at the City of Dreams Hotel and Casino in Parañaque on Nov. 27, 2016. Sombero was at that time the president of Asian Gaming Service Providers Association Inc.

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