Gordon: Sandiganbayan conviction of BI officials indicate that corruption can be beaten

Published June 25, 2021, 9:03 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The conviction of three ‘’big fishes’’ is a tremendous victory to boost the morale of the people that corruption at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) could be beaten.

Senator Richard J, Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, issued this statement after the Sandiganbayan Sixth Division convicted former BI Associate Commissioners Al C. Argosino and Michael B. Robles, as well as retired Police Col. Wenceslao “Wally” Sombero of plunder and graft.

‘’This shows that the hard work and careful handling of evidence by investigators in the Blue Ribbon can conquer and defeat corruption with the assistance of the public and relevant government agencies,” Gordon said as he hailed today’s promulgation of a decision to convict government officials involved in the BI bribery deal.

All three were sentenced to suffer the penalties of reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment), six to 10 years for graft, and perpetual disqualification from public office.

“This also proves that when the legislature, executive, and judiciary work hand in hand, justice can be attained, and criminals are put to jail. I salute my staff, the Blue Ribbon and the lawyers in the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan in giving justice to the public,” Gordon said.

The convicted former commissioners and Sombero confabulated to extort P50 million from Jack Lam, a Chinese casino operator, for the release of 1,316 undocumented Chinese casino workers who were caught during a raid working illegally in an online gambling operation at Fontana Resort, Clark Freeport in November 2016.

The P50 million in P1,000 bills withdrawn from the City of Dreams casino weighed some 100 pounds, Gordon said.

After a studious and painstaking analysis of the pieces of testimony presented during the Blue Ribbon Committee hearings, voluminous pages of documents, and video records taken from the casino CCTVs, the Committee, chaired by Senator Gordon recommended the filing of plunder and graft charges against Argosino, Robles, and Sombero, among other recommendations.

This conviction took four years to achieve; but Gordon said he believes that while the wheels of justice might ‘’grind exceedingly slow, it does grind finely.’’

“The fight against corruption never ends. While this conviction may be viewed as merely a single blow against public officers engaging in criminal activity and corruption, as long as the Blue Ribbon exists, the people of our country can be rest assured in the thought that they have an ally in the legislature that will expose malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance in public service,” he added.