Aguirre ac­cepts Duterte's de­ci­sion to keep Morente as BI chief

Sun.Star Pampanga - - PERSPECTIVE! -

JUS­TICE Sec­re­tary Vi­tal­iano Aguirre II has wel­comed Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte's de­ci­sion to re­tain in his post Im­mi­gra­tion chief Jaime Morente, even amid his al­leged in­volve­ment in the P50-mil­lion bribe try by gam­ing ty­coon Jack Lam.

“We just ush­ered in the new year. This gives us new op­por­tu­ni­ties to work to­gether for a bet­ter Bu­reau of Im­mi­gra­tion (BI),” Aguirre said on Mon­day, after learn­ing about the re­ten­tion of re­tired po­lice gen­eral Morente as the bu­reau's chief.

Amid his ear­lier state­ment that the BI needs a "mas­sive over­haul," Aguirre re­it­er­ated that he can work with Morente for the bet­ter­ment of the DOJ.

"I can work with any­one who be­lieves and sup­ports our re­form ori­ented agenda in the DOJ (Depart­ment of Jus­tice). Com­mis­sioner Morente has sig­ni­fied his full co­op­er­a­tion and sup­port of Pres­i­dent Duterte’s man­date to my of­fice to wage a war on cor­rup­tion," he said.

Aguirre added that their goal this year is to rid cor­rup­tion in their ranks: "A bet­ter BI, a more cor­rup­tion re­sis­tant Bu­reau will be our com­mon ob­jec­tive."

Last De­cem­ber, Aguirre or­dered Morente to turn over the re­main­ing P20-mil­lion al­leged ex­tor­tion money from Lam to the DOJ, fol­low­ing his ad­mis­sion that he au­tho­rized for­mer BI act­ing In­tel­li­gence chief Charles Cal­ima to con­duct a counter-in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tion on the al­leged pay­offs within the BI.

For­mer Im­mi­gra­tion Com­mis­sion­ers Al Ar­gosino and Michael Robles – the two other com­mis­sion­ers who were also in­volved in the bribe try – a week be­fore Aguirre's or­der al­ready turned over to the DOJ P30 mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to the two, the money they re­ceived as part of their clan­des­tine op­er­a­tions against BI of­fi­cials ac­cept­ing pay­offs amounts to P50 mil­lion. P18 mil­lion of the money ac­cord­ing to them went to Cal­ima while the P2 mil­lion was pocket by Lam's as­so­ciate, re­tired po­lice of­fi­cial Wally Sombr er o.

Aguirre had also asked the BI chief to sub­mit copies of Cal­ima's re­ports rel­a­tive to his sup­posed counter-in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions as well as the ac­tions he took after re­ceiv­ing the re­ports.

But Morente failed to fol­low these di­rec­tives. In re­ply to Aguirre's or­der, he said he can no longer or­der Cal­ima to turn over the money to the DOJ as he no longer works in the bu­reau.

Cal­ima was ter­mi­nated by Aguirre, along with BI Tech­ni­cal As­sis­tant for In­tel­li­gence, Po­lice Supt. Ed­ward Chan on De­cem­ber 14. Ar­gosino and Robles were also dis­missed the fol­low­ing week after Duterte acted on Aguirre's rec­om­men­da­tion to ter­mi­nate his ap­pointees, who were also his fra­ter­nity broth­ers at the Lex Talio­nis Fra­ter­ni­tas.

The anom­aly stemmed from the ar­rest of 1,316 un­doc­u­mented Chi­nese na­tion­als at Lam's on­line gam­ing op­er­a­tions in Fon­tana.

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