President Rodrigo Duterte removed all of the employees of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) who are involved in the “pastillas” modus which was revealed by Senator Risa Hontiveros in a Senate hearing following the corruption and human trafficking issues at the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) which were also uncovered by Hontiveros.
This move was meant to reinforce the administration’s drive to eradicate corruption in the government. Earlier this week, Senator Hontiveros revealed to a Senate hearing the corruption at the BI which involves airport and immigration personnel who are being bribed by Chinese people for effortless entry to the country.
Senator Hontiveros called this modus “pastillas” because the kickbacks were rolled into papers in such a manner that looks like the wrapping of Filipino candy called pastillas. However, Hontiveros revealed a video showing that the personnel at the airport are now more “professional” by guising the kickbacks in cash bonus envelopes to avoid suspicion. Reportedly, the personnel are allegedly also receiving free lunch from the Chinese people.
In a briefing at the Palace, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo announced the relief of all the officials and employees involved in the scheme immediately after Hontiveros made the disclosure of the issue recently this week.
Panelo said, “The President considers this anomaly, which some define as the ‘pastillas scheme’, as a grave form of corruption that cannot be countenanced by the government.”
As of now, the number of officials who were removed is still not revealed but Panelo emphasized that the Palace received evidences establishing “probable cause” in sacking the officials.
He added, “As we have repeatedly stressed, there are no sacred cows in this Administration. Any official or employee who commits any wrong in the performance of their respective duties shall be meted out with the punishment that they deserve and in accordance with our penal laws.”
The ‘pastillas’ scheme is still being called for hearing at the Senate where Hontiveros revealed that the total amount corrupted in the POGO industry would reach at least P10 billion. Hontiveros also disclosed that BI officials are receiving P 10,000 kickbacks from Chinese nationals which are divided to officials and other employees to ensure their smooth entry and transport to the country.