Aguirre: Atong Ang vows to back gov’t campaign vs illegal gambling

MANILA�Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Friday said Filipino-Chinese businessman Charlie "Atong" Ang expressed support to Duterte administration campaign against illegal gambling in the country.

Aguirre confirmed he met Ang with his lawyer at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Department of Justice.

Mr. Ang made the brief courtesy call, accompanied by his lawyer, primarily to express his full support to the Duterte administration's crusade against any form of illegal gambling and to clear some issues that brought about some misunderstandings in the past, Aguirre said in statement sent to reporters.

Earlier, Aguirre directed the NBI to conduct an investigation and case build-up over the accusations of Ang that he and and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. were plotting to kill him through the NBI so as to eliminate the gambling operations of his Meridien Vista Gaming Corp.

He said Ang should bring his witnesses and evidence to the NBI and assured him that the NBI would attend to his complaint.

Aguirre has already denied the allegation, branding it as "demolition job against me, in conspiracy with the destabilizers of the Duterte administration."

Aguirre dared Ang to file a case against them or seek an investigation.

The DOJ chief believes that Ang was retaliating after he led the raid on Fontana Leisure Park that busted the billion-peso online illegal gambling operation that was being conducted thereat by his business partner and best friend Jack Lam.

Ang has accused Aguirre of wanting to eliminate him so that his brother, Ogie Aguirre, will have an unhampered control of STL operations from Batangas to the Bicol region.

He also claimed that the PCSO wants Meridien stopped because of conflicts with the STL operations.

Aguirre also asked the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to look into Ang's company, the Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation, for possible tax violations.

In a letter dated May 2, Aguirre asked BIR Commissioner Cesar Dulay to look into the matter, saying his office has the authority to do so in cases where the Tax Code might have been possibly violated.

Pursuant to the provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended, the Department is hereby seeking the assistance of the BIR, as the administrator of the supervisory and police power conferred by the NIRC and other laws as well as within the powers conferred to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to initiate investigations for possible violations of the country's tax laws of Mr. Charlie Ang and Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation, Aguirre said in his letter to Dulay.

I trust that greater cooperation and confidence between the Department of Justice and the BIR will be forthcoming in our government's efforts to curb corruption and criminality in the country, particularly in cases of tax evasion, Aguirre added.

Aguirre said Ang was simply afraid because he could lose his source of income that brought him earnings of up to Php 50 million a day.

Ang is the owner of Meridien, which operates a jai-alai fronton in Sta. Ana, Cagayan and whose franchise was granted by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) during the Arroyo administration.

Source: Philippine News Agency