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Drilon slams ‘mockery of justice’ in BI extortion case

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Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday called on President Duterte to order a probe by an independent body on what he noted as malicious removal P1,000 from the P50 million alleged bribe or extortion money received by Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials now facing corruption charges.

“Obviously there is obstruction of justice dahil sa ang P50 million ay binawasan ng P1,000 –para hindi pumasok sa plunder. I call for an investigation because this is obstruction of justice. Whoever is responsible should be punished,” he said.

“I call on the Office of the President to constitute an independent probe or the Ombudsman to conduct an independent probe as to this very obvious amateur way of obstructing justice,” the senator said.

During Tuesday night’s interpellation on the proposed budget of the Department of Justice (DOJ), senators learned that BI officials implicated in the alleged P50-million extortion on or bribery of casino mogul Jack Lam would not likely be facing plunder charges as the amount turned over to the authorities was short of P1,000.

The threshold required in plunder charges is P50 million and the P30 million supposedly received by former BI associate commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles was short of P1,000 when they turned over the money to the DOJ.

Argosino and Robles are facing charges following their receipt of the money from the alleged handler of Lam, former policemen and purported fixer Wally Sombero.

“I condemn in the strongest possible term this mockery of justice that we are seeing. Pwede ba ‘yun na kunwari ay kinuhanan pa ng video ‘yung pagbibilang ng pera ma-prove na kulang ng P1,000 bago pumasok sa kasong plunder,” Drilon said.

Drilon was told that the DOJ recorded the counting of the P29,999,000 yielded by the two former BI officials. The remaining P20 million are in custody of the Ombudsman and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

The senator said the Office of the President should constitute an independent probe on the matter and the DOJ is not the proper agency to handle the case since Argosino and Robles, were under the department.

“It’s up to the President because the DOJ is involved here. There are people from the DOJ who are accused here,” he said.

Reports said that Robles and Argosino are fraternity members of San Beda College of Law’s Lex Talionis Fraternitas where Duterte and DOJ Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre II are also affiliated with.