Philippine Airlines (PAL) on Saturday stated it will cooperate with the probe of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in connection with the case of a former PAL consultant and a former Customs official who were arrested for alleged extortion.
NBI agents on Thursday arrested Benjamin Sebastian and John Tan in an entrapment operation at a restaurant in Century Park Hotel in Manila.
The authorities accosted Sebastian, who was a PAL consultant, and Tan, a former district collector in the Bureau of Customs, after receiving P11 million from PAL officials.
The arrest came after PAL legal counsel Lucio Espinoza sought NBI assistance against Sebastian who he claimed demanded money from the airline management in exchange for facilitating the release of imported jet fuel.
PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna clarified that Tan is not the “John Tan” who was the director of the airline.
On Saturday, Villaluna issued PAL’s statement, saying “We are cooperating extensively with the National Bureau of Investigation on the case related to the former PAL consultant who was apprehended on March 16 for an extortion attempt.”
The airline also stated that “We wish to clarify, however, that we have not discovered any prior suspicious payments made by PAL to this individual, as alleged in the media report citing external counsel who assisted in the apprehension.”
“This case is now the subject of an ongoing active investigation, and we are unable to provide further comments beyond this statement,” it added.
In an interview with Bilyonaryo.com, Sebastian denied the allegation, saying the money was a gift from PAL chairman Lucio Tan.
“It was a gift from Kapitan (Lucio Tan) for being his assistant for 40 years. Why would I extort from PAL when I could easily ask for money from Kapitan?” he said.
Tan also denied any involvement. He said he was just invited by Sebastian to eat at the hotel. The incident happened as the country’s flag carrier celebrates its 82 anniversary.