Two Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials embroiled in the alleged P50-million extortion try involving gaming tycoon Jack Lam decided to quit their posts on Friday, supposedly to shield President Rodrigo Duterte from the controversy.
Immigration Deputy Commissioner Al Argosino announced that he and fellow Deputy Commissioner Michael Robles tendered their resignation "effectively immediately."
Argosino made the announcement hours after retired police official Wally Sombero, an associate of Lam, filed graft complaints against the two BI officials before the Office of the Ombudsman.
"To spare the Honorable President from the troubles brought about by the false allegation hurled by Mr. Wally Sombero, we are tendering our resignation effective immediately," Argosino said in a text message.
Duterte, Argosino, and Robles are members of the San Beda College of Law-based Lex Talionis Fraternitas, Inc.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre is also a member of the said fraternity.
Argosino and Robles were caught on video on November 27 accepting money from Sombero allegedly on behalf of Lam, owner of the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga where 1,316 undocumented Chinese workers were apprehended by BI operatives on November 24.
The two Immigration officials allegedly demanded P50 million in exchange for the release of the 600 Chinese illegally working for Lam's online gambling operations at Fontana, according to the December 10 column of opinion writer Ramon Tulfo.
Argosino and Robles denied the allegations, saying they accepted the money as part of their probe on corruption in the Immigration agency involving Lam, a Macau-based businessman.
Both officials then filed complaints for corruption of public officials and violation of anti-wiretapping law against Lam, Sombero and three others before the Parañaque City Prosecutor's Office.
"Now that both cases have already been filed, it is time for the truth to prevail," Argosino said, adding the past few days have been difficult for them and their families.
Still, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II had asked Duterte to fire the two officials, citing loss of trust and confidence for their alleged failure to "perform their respective duties beyond reproach."
BI intelligence officials, Charles Calima and Edward Chan, were also fired in relation to the extortion controversy, which is now the subject of parallel probes by the National Bureau of Investigation, Parañaque City Prosecutor's Office, and Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente. —NB, GMA News