Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Roland “Bato” Dela Rosa told reporters on Wednesday that gaming tycoon Jack Lam has put out feelers about returning to the country.
“He has, as of now, has feelers to surrender. He will return back here to the country,” Dela Rosa said at an impromptu interview after the change of command ceremony of the new AFP chief of staff in Quezon City.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the arrest of Jack Lam after 1,316 illegal Chinese workers were arrested last November at illegal online casino facilities operating at the Jimei Group-run Fontana Hot Spring Leisure Parks on the grounds of former U.S. Clark Air Force Base about an hour northwest of Manila.
The detainees were charged with visa violations rather than gambling offenses. Government officials say Fontana’s online gaming operation was illegal, however, Fontana insists it has authorization to conduct the online operations. Online gaming and proxy betting are common at Philippine casinos, accounting for significant portions of VIP play.
Dela Rosa said that although there was no official warrant for Lam’s arrest, President Duterte ordered the Police to arrest Lam for the “economic sabotage” he has allegedly committed against the Philippines by employing illegal workers.
“There is still no warrant but we cannot deny the bribery attempt, the economic sabotage he committed by employing illegal aliens here in the country. It only means they are making a mockery of the Philippines by employing a handful number of Chinese who are all undocumented,” said Dela Rosa.
Immigration records show that Lam left the Philippines on Nov. 29, four days after the arrest of the Chinese nationals. Since there is no arrest warrant, the Philippine National Police cannot work with Interpol or any international agencies to track Lam down, but Dela Rosa declared that they would wait for him to come back to the country.
“All our transaction with foreign enforcement agencies is via interpol. We cannot put him on red notice unless there’s a warrant of arrest against him. But if he is here in the country even in the absence of any warrant of arrest we can go after him,” he said.