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Argosino, Robles, Sombero get reclusion perpetua over P50-million immigration bribery

The Sandiganbayan has sentenced former Immigration deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles and retired police officer Wenceslao Sombero Jr. to reclusion perpetua after convicting them of plunder over a P50-million bribery case.

The three were also convicted of graft and sentenced to six to ten years of imprisonment and perpetual disqualification to hold public office.

Meanwhile, the complaints against them for direct bribery, corruption of public officials, and violation of Presidential Decree No. 46 were dismissed as court said these were “included in plunder committed through a series of acts.”

“The ill-gotten wealth accumulated, amassed, or acquired by the accused, now under the custody of the concerned government agencies, is hereby forfeited in favor of the state,” the Sandiganbayan said.

Robles and Argosino were accused of receiving P50 million from Sombero, the alleged bagman of Chinese businessman Jack Lam, for the release of 1,316 illegal Chinese workers found at the Lam’s casino in Clark, Pampanga in 2016.

Both of the former Immigration officers have denied the accusation.

In 2018, Ombudsman prosecutors tagged Argosino as the "main plunderer" in the scandal.

The Sandiganbayan also previously said that Argosino and Robles failed to establish the supposed bias of the magistrates hearing their plunder case.

Senator Richard Gordon who presided over a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee inquiry into the bribery welcomed the decision.

“The conviction of the ‘three big fishes’ is a tremendous victory to boost the morale of the people that corruption can be beaten. This is a victory for the people and our justice system," Gordon said. —NB, GMA News