MANILA (Updated) -- Senator Richard Gordon rebuked Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II for his failure to arrest former police general Wenceslao "Wally" Sombero when the latter allegedly tried to bribe him.

In a Senate hearing on Thursday, Gordon told Aguirre that had he arrested Sombero when he tried to bribe him last November 26 at a hotel in Makati, he could have prevented him from bribing another two Bureau of Immigration (BI) commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles.

Gordon said the word "ninong" used by Sombero can be misconstrued for another meaning and the DOJ chief should have immediately drew the line and Argosino and Robles should have been more careful.

"Ang ginawa ko po nung sinabi sa akin na pwede ba Secretary of Justice ang mag-ninong kay Jack Lam, ako ay nagpaalam na kaagad sapagkat alam ko naman kung saan papunta ang usapan," Aguirre said.

Aguirre reiterated that he could not arrest Sombero as he did not commit a crime at the time.

"Definitely, I cannot arrest anybody because there was no crime committed. Yung sinabi niya sa akin na 'Secretary, pwede ba kayo mag-ninong kay Jack Lam,' there is no such crime," Aguirre said.

Aguirre pointed out that there was no overt act committed and added that had Sombero offered him money or asked him if he can be Lam's protector, then he could have arrested the former general.

Sombero finally appeared at the Senate hearing on Thursday and confirmed the extortion and pay-off involving Argosino and Robles.

"May extortion po," Sombero admitted when asked by Senator Francis Escudero, as he confirmed that the extortion took place last November 26 and the pay-off transpired November 27 of last year.

According to Sombero, he was the middleman of gambling mogul Jack Lam and was the one who handed the P50 million to the said BI officials as he explained that it was meant to bail Lam’s Chinese employees who were arrested last year for illegally working in the country.

Sombero said he did not want to get involved in the withdrawal of money but designated a certain Martin and Garfield to do it for him.

Based on Sombero narration, it took sometime before Lam's business partner decided to produce P100 million being asked by the BI officials.

Alexander Yu, one of Lam's interpreters, said they got the money from Lam’s business associates.

Yu explained that they were quite confused on whether the money will serve as a bail until they realized that it was a mere extortion when Charlie Atong Ang, Lam's business partner, started questioning them insisting that they should have done the negotiation inside the BI office.

Yu revealed that when Argosino told them, "The ball is in your hand. 'Pag wala yung another P50 million walang mangyayari na release ng mga tao niyo."

"So doon ko na realize na it was extortion," Yu told the committee.

He said Lam gave in to the demands and produced the money, which came from Lam's business partners as he recalled that they were really exhausting all possible resources for them to produce the P100 million or else Lam's 1,300 Chinese employees who were arrested at Fontana hotel and casino in Clark Freeport, Pampanga will not be released.

He said they handed over the money to Sombero with the hope that he can help facilitate the immediate release of the Chinese employees.

Sombero gave the P50 million cash contained in five bags to Robles and Argosino at the City of Dreams in Pasay City.

Atong Ang also added that the truth of the matter is that this is a fight among gambling operators which he refused to elaborate further.

Argosino, for his part, belied the extortion issue being raised against him saying it was part of their entrapment operation when they accepted the money, which he argued will be used as proof that they will be using against Lam.

In his opening statement, Sombero said he appeared in the hearing to save the online gaming service industry, which he said, was reportedly being sabotaged and derailed by relentless raids conducted by some misguided law enforcement officers.

It was the fourth public hearing at the session hall being conducted by the Senate committee on accountability. SunStar Philippines