JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday ordered Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente to surrender within 24 hours the P20 million that was part of the P50 million in alleged bribe from controversial Chinese gaming tycoon Jack Lam after he publicly admitted authorizing the intelligence operations to establish concrete evidence regarding the extortion by two deputy commissioners of the agency.
In a one-page order, Aguirre also directed Morente to make a written report on his compliance with the directive not later than 5p.m. today.
“In view of your express admission that you authorized General Charles Calima, the former acting intelligence chief of the BI, to conduct a counter-intelligence operation in connection with the alleged P50 million extortion purportedly committed by former Associate Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles, and in order to preserve the evidence of such extortion activity, you are hereby directed to turn over within 24 hours the remaining P20 million to this Department for safekeeping or to the National Bureau of Investigation, the agency conducting investigation on the alleged extortion incident,” Aguirre said.
“It is understood that you are authorized to take any and all appropriate steps to secure and safely turn over the aforesaid P20 million as directed,” he added.
The DoJ chief also directed Morente to furnish his office “any and all reports relative to the counter-intelligence operation made by General Calima before he was terminated from service as well as those action that you took after receiving the said reports.”
Earlier, Aguirre said he was mulling a complete overhaul of the BI due to the recent controversy.
Argosino and Robles were accused of extorting P50 million from Lam for the release of Chinese nationals arrested last month while working on the latter’s online gambling casino at the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga.
The two former BI officials, who resigned and were eventually fired by Duterte last week, admitted accepting the money but insisted that they were only investigating the corruption in the BI and that Calima took P18 million of the amount while P2 million was taken by retired police general Wally Sombero who was acting as Lam’s middleman.
Argosino and Robles were fraternity brothers of Duterte and Aguirre in San Beda College of Law’s Lex Talionis Fraternitas Inc.