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Senators grill ex-BI execs on details of bribery meeting

Senators on Monday grilled former Bureau of Immigration (BI) Deputy Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles on the details of the alleged bribery between them and gaming tycoon Jack Lam.

At the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing, panel chair Senator Dick Gordon lambasted Argosino for his confusing statements of his knowledge of the bribe money placed inside two bags.

“Hindi ba nakakapagtaka, you are a lawyer and commissioner of Immigration, are you dense? Hindi ka ba nakakahalata?” Gordon told Argosino.

Argosino narrated that on the night of November 26, retired police officer Wally Sombero met with him and Robles.

“Sa tabi lang niya left and right and then nong nag-uusap na kami natanong ko sa kanya, ‘Para saan ba yan?’ Sa akin po hindi ako interesado kaso para sa akin nag-iinvestigate ako,” Argosino explained.

Gordon, however, hit Argosino for supposedly staying there and accepting the bag even without knowing what was inside.

“Hindi ba nakakahiya na two commissioners kayo, sumasama kayo doon may dalang bag?” Gordon said, to which Argosino replied: “We did not touch the bags.”

Argosino then said that upon transferring to another restaurant early morning the next day, Sombero left for at least two hours and brought three more bags when he came back.

Argosino has repeatedly said he did not ask Sombero where the bags came from.

“Hindi, dahil ang nasa isip ko lang, “Anong purpose nito?” Argosino said, which Gordon shrugged off: “Alam mo na eh.”

Argosino later revealed that Sombero told him that there was P20 million inside the bags while they were in the first restaurant.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, meanwhile, questioned why the two BI deputy commissioners had to stay and wait for two hours for Sombero to come back.

Argosino replied that the bags were still with them, and they were waiting for Lam to show up.

Robles, meanwhile, said he knew about the money when they were about the leave the City of Dreams.

“There was a time tinanong ko para saan yan, sabi niya hawakan niyo lang yan tapos umaalis alis lang si Sombero,” Robles said.

Argosino then revealed that after eight hours of meeting with Sombero, he kept P28 million of the P50 million bribe money as evidence. Robles, meanwhile, kept P20 million.

“As evidence I brought it to my house. The money stayed with me until we brought it out,” Argosino said. 

Argosino said Sombero got the P2 million. — RSJ, GMA News