Atong Ang to arrive in RP Friday

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — AUTHORITIES’ eyes will be at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport tomorrow morning as controversial trader Charlie “Atong” Ang arrives at 5:30 at the NAIA Centennial Terminal via Philippine Airlines Flight PR-103.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager for security and emergency services Ret. Gen. Angel Atutubo said that as early as Monday, airport officials have already ironed out details with National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) representatives.

NBI chief at the Ninoy Aquio International Airport (NAIA) Atty. Lito Magno said his office is yet to receive final instructions from higher-ups.

Atutubo said mediamen will not be allowed to interview Ang. However, a photo opportunity will be allowed. No special route or lane will be assigned to accommodate Ang as he will pass through the normal processes while ensuring his swift exit from the airport.

Ang, former presidential adviser and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) consultant during the time of ex-President Estrada, was fetched by NBI special task force chief Atty. Reynaldo Esmeralda, who talked to the district marshals and district attorney of Las Vegas.

Esmeralda, who was accompanied by NBI-Interpol division chief Atty. Claro de Castro Jr., said that after their arrival in Manila, they will immediately bring Atong Ang to the Sandiganbayan where he can answer all the charges against him.

“Pagdating dito sa bansa ay agad rin naman namin siyang isu-surrender sa Sandiganbayan,” Esmeralda added.

Ang was named co-accused in the plunder case the government filed against Estrada in connection with the P130-million tobacco excise tax that Gov. Luis “Chavit“ Singson claimed he delivered personally to the house of the disgraced leader at Polk St., North Greenhills, in 1998.

A reliable source at the NBI claimed they were forced to fetch Ang after the State Department allegedly gave an ultimatum that the controversial trader would remain in the U.S. if the government fails to extradite him within the prescribed period.

“Well, it is up for the Sandiganbayan where they can confine Ang. After their arrival, we will immediately surrender him to the Sandiganbayan where he can defend himself on the plunder case filed by our government against him,” Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said the government is not keen on using Ang to bolster its fledgling case against Estrada as they are aware that doing so would further delay its resolution. The case has been ongoing since April 2001 when Estrada was arrested and formally charged by the DOJ.

There were reports that Ang could be of big help in the disappearance of Pagcor employee Edgardo Bentain who supplied a video grab showing then presidential candidate Estrada playing inside the casino in an attempt by his political enemies to destroy the populist image of the deposed leader.