How will these cases end?
In the article, “Sandigan justice inhibits self from Duterte frat brods’ plunder, extortion cases” (News, 4/6/18), former Bureau of Immigration commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles were reported to be in the dock, among others, for plunder on the basis of an affidavit of a witness who claimed that the bags he handed over to the two contained P50 million. That is the minimum amount prescribed by law to qualify the crime as plunder, which is nonbailable.
Days after that handover, it turned out that the cash totaled P49,999,000 only—P1,000 shy of the threshold amount. This was the official count, made in the presence of investigators. There is absolutely no record of any actual count made by the bagman before he delivered the money. He was only told there was P50 million in the bags and prosecutors have nothing but his word for it.
That apparently happened because it took a while before the Department of Justice authorities took custody of the money, fueling speculations, nay suspicions, that Agrosino and Robles—being fraternity brothers of President Duterte and then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II—were being handled with kid gloves.
So, can anyone venture a guess where those plunder cases are going? An educated guess should take no more than a minute to figure that out.
Between an actual count and the mere say-so of one or two who did not make any, the choice is already obvious. But, as usual, the Sandiganbayan proceedings will probably take years and millions of taxpayer money to establish that the plunder charges were made
REY CHAVEZ ESCOBAR,
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