One senior bureaucrat reportedly helping investigators
The Philippines Bureau of Immigration scandal around Chinese online gambling fugitive Bo Wang (see previous InfoPowa report) had an interesting sequel this week when no-nonsense Secretary for Justice Leila De Lima questioned two top officials over their efforts on Wang's behalf despite documentary proof of his wanted status, provided by a senior Chinese official.
Clearly she was less than impressed with the answers provided by Abdullah Mangotara and Gilbert Respizo surrounding their opposition to Wang's continued detention and ultimate deportation, because the enquiry into their explanations on the issue continued.
Towards the end of the week local media, quoting reliable insider sources, revealed that Mangotara was assisting the enquiry, claiming that Respizo negotiated a possibly corrupt deal with Wang's representatives to arrange the fugitive's release on payment of P100 million to the immigration bureau and P440 million for certain unnamed legislators.
Pressed for confirmation, the head of BI, Commissioner Siegfried Mison, would say only that a top official in BI was now "ready to reveal the truth".
The new revelations make it virtually impossible for De Lima not to conduct a full investigation into the affair to determine if corruption was a factor, and if so which officials and lawmakers were involved.
Such an investigation appears inevitable in any case; House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte has since filed House Resolution 2151, seeking an investigation into claims that Wang or his representatives had paid certain funds to the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives which were subsequently used by the Liberal Party to influence the outcome of Committee hearings.
Belmonte said that it was necessary to thoroughly investigate the Bureau of Immigration for corruption in the Wang case, because its three top officials were making allegations against each other, suggesting that something questionable may have been going on.
UPDATE: Immigration Associate Commissioner Gilbert Repizo, whom colleagues have alleged was the point man in a bribery initiative to release Chinese online gambling fugitive Bo Wang, has denied any wrongdoing.
Respizo told local media that the decision to suspend Wang's deportation order and release him was the result of a collaborative deliberation by the three top men in the Bureau of Immigration, including himself, and was justified by the lack of authentication in China's request that Wang be held and sent back to China.
The Department of Justice investigation continues into the matter, in which it is alleged that Wang paid over large sums of money which was then disbursed as gifts to selected Philippines lawmakers, and for political campaigning in 2016 by the Liberal Party.
Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa