Press Release
October 11, 2017

Drilon urges Ombudsman to probe obvious obstruction of justice in Jack Lam bribe case

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon called on the Ombudsman to investigate the obstruction of justice and the manipulation of the evidence in the case against two former Bureau of Immigration commissioners who were accused of extorting P50 million from gaming tycoon Jack Lam.

"I call for an investigation because this is obstruction of justice and whoever is responsible should be punished," Drilon said.

Upon Drilon's interpellation of the budget of the Department of Justice, it was revealed that the bribe money recovered from Former Immigration commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles was only P49,999,000, short of P1,000 to sustain a plunder case.

The former justice secretary believes this is "a deliberate attempt" to manipulate the evidence in order that they could escape non-bailable plunder charges. The NBI recommended the filing of graft charges, not plunder, against the two commissioners, he noted.

The threshold for plunder case is P50 million, explained the former justice secretary, which carries a penalty of life imprisonment, while the penalty for graft is ony six to 15 years of imprisonment.

Drilon said that video recordings of the counting of the money were deliberately done to show that the amount was only P49,999,000, or P1,000 short of the P50 million threshold for plunder.

"It was very clear that there is an obvious collusion in order for the two accused commissioners to avoid facing a plunder case so that they could post bail and be freed," said Drilon.

If it is not probed, Drilon said that it would make a mockery of our justice system. "I condemn in the strongest possible term this mockery of the justice system. We should not let that happen," he stressed.

Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7080 states that "any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt criminal acts as described in Section 1 (d) hereof in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death."

"Obviously there is obstruction of justice because it was made to appear that the plunder case could not be applied because of the missing P1,000," Drilon said.

He said that the Department of Justice cannot be trusted to look into the case because of the alleged involvement of some of its officials.

Drilon said it is only proper that the Ombudsman "conduct an independent probe to this very obvious amateur way of obstructing justice."

Drilon likewise called on the Office of the President to conduct an independent investigation on the obvious obstruction of justice in the case.

News Latest News Feed