GAMING tycoon Jack Lam does not have a permit from the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, contrary to the claim by his lawyer, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Tuesday.
“Ceza has not authorized any of its operators to set up office or any of their operations in the Clark Freeport. It is very apparent that some foreigners are violating our laws. We will not tolerate that,” Aguirre said in an interview.
The Justice Secretary cited a letter from Ceza chief executive officer Jose Mari Ponce received by the Bureau of Immigration earlier this week.
The Ceza issued the clarification upon request of the bureau for a list of Ceza Working Visa holders from among the 1,316 Chinese nationals who were arrested for working without the necessary permits inside Lam’s Fontana Leisure and Casino Park.
“CWV holders are not allowed to work in offices not registered or authorized by the Ceza. Such a violation is considered a ground for the cancellation of the company’s registration and the Ceza Working Visa of the concerned expatriate,” Aguirre said.
The Justice secretary also admitted that 600 of the arrested Chinese, or almost half, have already posted bail for some P30 million in total. He further bared that only one lawyer assisted the detained Chinese nationals.
The Department of Justice earlier issued a lookout bulletin order against Lam and also ordered the cancellation of his investor’s visa. The gaming tycoon flew to Hong Kong on Nov. 29, a few days before President Duterte ordered his warrantless arrest for continuing crimes of economic sabotage and harboring of illegal aliens.
Aguirre said he expected the criminal charges to be filed against Lam soon.
The casino operation of the lone five-star Fort Ilocandia Resort in Laoag, meanwhile, has been temporarily closed.
The FIR is an affiliate of Fontana Leisure Park in Clark Field, Pampanga.
Upon instructions from President Rodrigo Duterte police and representatives from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. served the closure order late Monday.
Following the arrest of 1,316 Chinese at Lam’s casino in Fontana for overstaying and some violations, the President ordered the arrest of the big-time gaming tycoon for allegedly attempting to bribe government officials, including Aguirre and Pagcor chairwoman Andrea Domingo, and for economic sabotage.
Jayson Perrera, legal counsel of FIR, maintained that Lam has not violated any law, hence he is optimistic the operation of the Fort Ilocandia casino will resume as soon as possible.
Earlier this year, authorities conducted a raid inside FIRC, which resulted in the arrest of some Chinese who were accused of online betting but their cases were dismissed due to lack of evidence, Perrera said.
Over the years, pack of Chinese tourists visit Laoag City via chartered flights and they are all billeted at the Fort Ilocandia.
“Our Chinese visitors [at the FIRC] are well-documented Chinese. They come and go at the Fort Ilocandia,” said Perrera.
The Bureau of Immigration reported Tuesday that 10 more Chinese nationals who left their holding facility at the convention center of the Club Fontana Hotel in Clark, Pampanga, have returned to government custody.
Ma. Antonette Mangrobang, BI spokesperson, called on the remaining 16 who are still unaccounted, as of Tuesday to return to the bureau’s custody.
The number is part of the 57 foreigners who escaped after being arrested for illegally operating an online gaming business inside a casino late last month.
The BI official noted that those who returned gave the same reasons for their escape: they could not stand the conditions in the holding facility and wanted to return to the comfort of their villas, take a bath and sleep in their bedrooms.
“All of them also denied allegations that they bribed their guards or gave money to anyone to help them escape,” Mangrobang added.
A group of commuters and road users on Tuesday kept up the pressure on Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade and urged Aguirre to look into his role in the online gambling operations at Fontana.
A chairman of the group, Ray Junia, slammed Tugade, who was chief executive of Clark Development Corp., saying Lam could not have prospered through his illegal operatios “if not for Tugade.”
Tugade denied these allegations in a statement, saying there was an orchestrated effort to oust Tugade, “an upright man” who “abhors corruption.”
“He knows Jack Lam as one of the locators in Clark when he was CDC president but that doesn’t mean Secretary Tugade is involved in any wrongdoing. It is not CDC who grants permits for online gambling. In fact, Secretary Tugade was very strict in granting BPO permits to make sure it was not being used as front for online gambling,” the statement said.
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