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2月22日のまにら新聞から

BI to ''immediately'' relieve 19 personnel involved in ''pastillas'' scheme

[ 516 words|2020.2.22|英字 (English) ]

The Bureau of Immigration ( BI) will “immediately” relieve all 19 of their personnel who were allegedly involved in the “pastillas” scheme in compliance with the order of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“In compliance with the directive of the President, we are immediately relieving the services immigration personnel mentioned during the Senate hearing regarding the Pastillas scheme,” Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval said in a statement.

Sandoval said the information revealed by Immigration Officer 1 Alex Chiong is “deeply alarming”.

“We are not taking this lightly. The expose by Immigration Officer Alex Chiong is deeply alarming, and we will ensure that we will take every measure to destroy this system of corruption, and impose the harshest penalties to erring personnel,” she said.

“Corruption has no place in the Bureau,” she added.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte ordered the relief of all officials involved in the scheme of receiving rolled-up money, which looks like pastillas, a Philippine delicacy, in exchange for allowing the entry of Chinese people into the country.

During Thursday’s Senate hearing, Chiong identified 19 officials whom he said were allegedly allowed Chinese casino high-rollers and offshore gaming workers to enter the Philippines without going through the usual immigration process.

In his opening statement, Chiong said his function as immigration officer is operating the counter in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport where he examine travel documents of departing and arriving passengers rotating in three terminals.

“As a frontline immigration officer, I have personally witnessed various illegal transactions over the years involving the extortion of money in exchange for unimpeded passage through the Philippines whether leaving or entering our country,” Chiong said.

He said immigration officers started offering VIP services where high rollers pay P2,000 in exchange for easy access in the country when the Department of Justice (DOJ) removed their overtime pay in 2012.

Chiong further revealed that immigration officers received a list of Chinese names who will be allowed to enter without “question or investigation” through Viber messaging app.

However, this Viber group was deleted after the National Bureau of Investigation conducted a probe on BI’s airport operations.

"Immigration officers at the counter (now) were asked to bring each Chinese national to the holding area of travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) and a member of the TCEU would then check the name with the master list,” he said.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente relieved the terminal heads at NAIA and TCEU as they investigate the scheme.

Duterte in his speech last Thusday in Davao City said Morente was not involved in the scheme.

"Morente, I love him because he became chief of police here. He is kind. He can't do it, it's still limited...," he said.

"All those at the NAIA will be charged, I relieved them with the end view of dismissal," he added.

Early this week, Senator Risa Hontiveros revealed the “pastillas” scheme in the country's immigration and local handlers to allow entry of Chinese POGO workers.

Her Senate investigation stemmed from the increased number of crimes, especially human trafficking and prostitution, involving Chinese due to the proliferation of the said business. Ella Dionisio/DMS