The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court recently meted life terms for plunder to three former government officials relating to the P50-million extortion of gambling tycoon Jack Lam.
Per a report in the Philippine Star, the Sandiganbayan ruled that the case prepared by the Office of the Ombudsman “proved beyond reasonable doubt all the essential elements of plunder under Republic Act 7080.”
Sentenced to life in prison were former Bureau of Immigration (BI) deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles, and ex-police officer Wenceslao “Wally” Sombero Jr.
Argosino, Robles and Sombero are currently detained in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig.
They were also found guilty of violating Republic Act 3019 (the anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and sentenced to 6 to 10 years imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
The Sandiganbayan’s decision stemmed from a March 2018 case lodged by the Ombudsman accusing Argosino and Robles of allegedly extorting P50 million from the Macau tycoon in exchange for the release of 1,316 Chinese nationals working at his casino in Clark Freeport (Pampanga).
Said Chinese nationals were arrested by BI operatives on Nov. 24, 2016 for overstaying and other violations of immigration laws.
On Nov. 27, 2016, the Ombudsman said Argosino and Robles allegedly received the P50-million bribe money at the City of Dreams Hotel in Paranaque City from Sombero, said to be a friend of Lam, for the release of the Chinese nationals.
It was learned that the three accused can still appeal the decision of the Ombudsman before the Supreme Court.