Duterte: Jack Lam wants to return to PH

Pia Ranada

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Duterte: Jack Lam wants to return to PH
President Rodrigo Duterte lays down the conditions for the gaming tycoon's return, among them, voiding an old contract that allowed Lam to pay lower taxes compared to other locators in Clark Freeport

MANILA, Philippines – Jack Lam, the Chinese gaming tycoon President Rodrigo Duterte wants arrested for alleged economic sabotage and bribery, reportedly wants to return to the Philippines to resume his business.

Duterte said Lam had sent “feelers” so he would be allowed back into the country where he runs a casino in Pampanga. (READ: Macau’s top gambling tycoon: Who is Jack Lam?)

Si Lam has sent feelers that he would like to come back because he takes pity on the 6,000 plus Filipinos without a job,” said the President on Thursday, December 8, during the groundbreaking of the Bicol International Airport.

Since his arrest order on Lam, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) temporarily shut down the gaming area at the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark Freeport in Angeles City, operated by Lam’s Jimei Group.

Duterte said he has laid down conditions for Lam to be allowed to continue his business.

“Second, I said he would settle his obligations and third is, the contract they signed during Cory’s time is no longer acceptable to me. He only paid 1% [tax] while the rest of the guys there are paying 10%,” he explained.

Duterte said the Fontana casino can resume operations if Lam agreed to “let go of the orginal contract that allowed him to enjoy only 1% [tax payment].”

No more bribing

Lam had reportedly agreed to pay all his taxes. Duterte also warned the tycoon that he should not attempt to bribe anyone. Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II had earlier accused Lam of attempting to bribe the Cabinet official and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chair Andrea Domingo.

“Just pay the taxes, do not bribe anybody because I’ll really – buti nakalabas siya (good thing he got out) on time,” said Duterte.

Lam left the country days before Duterte ordered his arrest, according to the Bureau of Immigration. 

The President had apparently read a briefer about Lam. Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said in a press conference on Thursday that Lam was among the topics he and Duterte discussed during a meeting at the Palace on Wednesday.

The President said he would also soon be targeting the people Lam has bribed.

The next thing I should do is kung sino’ yung brinibe mo, sige sabihin mo. Kundi lagay kita sa Muntinlupa, kasama kayo lahat doon (The next thing I should do is those who you bribed, tell me who they are. Or else I will put you in Muntinlupa, you can all be together there),” he said.

The tycoon’s lawyer denied all the accusations and maintains Lam is a legitimate businessman.

Lam had sought a meeting with Aguirre in connection with the arrest of nearly 1,300 Chinese nationals whom police accused of illegally working for Lam’s online gaming operation.  (READ: Philippines detains hundreds of Chinese in casino raid)

The BI said on Tuesday that 592 of those workers were allowed to post bail pending the deportation cases against them.

It said the BI board commissioners had “found that there are no indications that the 592 are a threat to public safety and their temporary liberty is consistent with BI’s objective of decongesting the temporary detention facility.” – with a report from Jun A. Malig/Rappler.com


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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.