By Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral

No more arrest order as Jack Lam to return to PHL to ‘settle obligations’ -- Duterte

Posted on December 09, 2016

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte yesterday announced that he no longer wants Chinese gaming tycoon Jack Lam arrested following assurances that the latter will return to the Philippines to “settle his obligations”.

“I [previously] wanted him arrested. Kasi kung na-aresto ko sya (Because if I had arrested him), what will be the case? Economic sabotage, then bribery,” Mr. Duterte said in a chance interview in Bicol yesterday.

Philippine National Police Chief Ronald M. dela Rosa said in a radio interview on Dec. 3 that the President wanted Mr. Lam arrested in connection with the Nov. 24 raid at the Lam-operated Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino, which led to the arrest of 1,316 Chinese nationals who were working illegally in the country.

A lookout order was then issued against Mr. Lam, who reportedly left the country on Nov. 29 based on travel records from the Bureau of Immigration.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II also claimed that Mr. Lam tried to bribe him, but later clarified that this “was only my perception” and that there was no “overt act of bribery.”

Mr. Duterte said he has been informed that Mr. Lam wants to go back to the Philippines as “he takes pity of 6,000 plus Filipinos who have jobs” and to “settle his obligations.”

Among Mr. Lam’s obligations, according to the chief executive, is to pay 10% of its gaming revenue to the government just like other casinos, rather than the 1% he used to give through an “original contract” with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR).

“It’s okay with me because he has offered [to] come back, pay his tax, liabilities whatever it is. I said, on the condition that he lets go of original contract that lets him enjoy only 1%... Just pay taxes, don’t bribe anybody,” Mr. Duterte said in mixed Filipino and English.

Aside from the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino, Mr. Lam also operates the Fort Ilocandia Resort and Casino in Laoag, Ilocos Sur.

For his part, Mr. dela Rosa said in a press briefing yesterday that Mr. Lam told him that he wants to “do what is right” and he will “renegotiate” his gaming company’s PAGCOR contract to settle his liabilities to the government.

Mag-surrender daw sya sa akin (He said he will surrender to me) then I will relay to him the firm and unconditional intentions of the President,” Mr. dela Rosa said, adding that Mr. Lam needs to sort out his business operations or he will be charged with economic sabotage.