More than half of the 1,316 undocumented Chinese workers apparently managed to evade arrest when operatives from the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration (BI) swooped down on Jack Lam’s Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga in November 2016.
This was the revelation of no-less than Philippines Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II during Monday’s Senate Blue-Ribbon Committee hearing on the bribery scandal involving BI officials.
GMA News Online reported that Aguirre’s claim was in contrast to the statement of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, who said that “All those arrested were… on site.”
“There were at least 800 undocumented Chinese workers [that] evaded the arrest. The coffee shops, McDonalds, and hotel in Clark are teeming with undocumented Chinese workers. It was during the early hours of the raid when these workers escaped from being arrested,” Aguirre said in Filipino.
The DOJ chief, however, didn’t provide details on what happened to the supposed foreign fugitives who fled following the raid.
The Philippine senate is investigating the alleged P50 million (US$1 million) extortion by Lam, a Macau-based gaming tycoon, in exchange for the release of Chinese workers.
Dismissed Immigration Deputy Commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles have admitted to receiving five paper bags allegedly containing P10 million each, or a total of P50 million, from Lam’s middleman, retired police official Wally Sombero, at a hotel in Parañaque City.
During the Senate hearing, Philippine Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) claimed that Lam owes the Philippine government P 13.9 billion (US$278.25 million) in debts.
According to the Manila Standard, PAGCOR Assistant Vice-President of Community Relation and Services Arnel Ignacio accused Lam of remitting only one percent of the earnings from his operations.
Ignacio also pointed out that PAGCOR has not authorized Lam to operate an online gambling business, saying the license that the state regulator issued to Lam was for the tycoon’s casino, junket operations and phone betting.
When asked by Philippine Senator Sherwin on the amount that Lam earned from illegal gambling, Ignacio said that the state regulator is still verifying the figures.