Duterte relieves Immigration officials involved in ‘pastillas’ scheme

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2020 03:07 PM

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has relieved all Bureau of Immigration officials and employees allegedly involved in the so-called “pastillas” bribery scheme where local immigration personnel receive bribes from Chinese nationals who enter the country to illegally work here, Malacañang said Thursday.

The President had received reports and found evidence of the scheme, which he considers as a “grave form of corruption," Duterte's spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

“The President considers this anomaly, which some define as the ‘pastillas scheme,’ as a grave form of corruption which cannot be countenanced by the government,” Panelo said.

Cases will “most likely” be filed against the relieved officials, he added.

The “pastillas” scheme was revealed in a Senate inquiry earlier this week by opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros who said that Chinese nationals who enter the Philippines as tourists and later work in POGO hubs pay immigration personnel and Chinese and Filipino travel agencies P10,000 in grease money rolled in bond paper.

The issue is among several reported anomalies hounding the POGO industry, ranging from sex trafficking to corruption. 

The fate of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente will also be discussed in the next Cabinet meeting, Panelo said.

 “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,” he added.