Trillanes hints at Aguirre’s possible involvement in Immigration bribery scandal

  • Senator Antonio Trillanes believes Justice Secretary could be involved in the P50-M bribery scandal
  • Trillanes was particularly baffled by how Aguirre came to know about the figure last December when no one had told him
  • The senator added Aguirre only made it public because the plot has come to light

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV believes Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre is not innocent in the alleged P50-M bribery scandal involving gaming tycoon Jack Lam and three Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials.

At the Senate investigation on Monday, Trillanes questioned how Aguirre was able to claim last December 1 that Jack Lam offered him some P50M to P100M if he accepted the offer to help in freeing more than 1,000 Chinese nationals employed at Lam’s casino.

However, Aguirre made no mention of such offer at the Senate, but claimed he only attended a meeting last November 26 arranged by Wally Sombrero, Lam’s go-between. There, Sombrero asked Aguirre to help Lam.

“Mr. Secretary, matagal na pong walang nag-aalaga kay Jack Lam, puwede po bang ang Secretary of Justice ang mag-ninong sa kanya? That’s the proposal that I rejected,” Aguirre recalled; quoting Sombrero.

[Mr. Secretary, it’s been a long time that no one has been backing Jack Lam, is it possible for the Secretary of Justice to be his sponsor? That’s the proposal that I rejected.]

BI Associate Commissioner Al Argosino, who was also present in the meeting, claimed Sombrero approached him and repeatedly made the offer.

“Ang sabi niya (Sombero) po sa akin, Sir, magkano ba ang kailangan P50 million, P100 million? Hindi po ako nagsasalita,” Argosino said.

[He told me, Sir, how much do you need P50 million, P100 million? I did not speak.]

According to Argosino, he made no mention of such offer to Aguirre.

Trillanes said this is what baffles him, asking Argosino: “Sabi ni General Calima nalaman nila ‘yan through Wally Sombero. Sabi n’yo hindi n’yo sinabi. Saan nalaman ni Secretary Aguirre ‘yung figure na ‘yun noong December 1?”

[General Calima said he came to know about the offer through Wally Sombrero. You said you didn’t tell anyone. Where did Secretary Aguirre learn about the figure last December 1?]

Trillanes said this revelation showed that Aguirre knew about the transaction all this time, and he only made it public because the plot has come to light.

“There are many questions on Aguirre’s possible involvement in the bribery scandal. It is very difficult to explain why he met with the culprits. He told Argosino to take care of everything and 12 hours later, money changed hands,” the senator explained.