Palace: Duterte may still sack Morente despite chance to fix BI mess

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 04 2020 03:45 PM | Updated as of Mar 04 2020 03:46 PM

Palace: Duterte may still sack Morente despite chance to fix BI mess 1
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente. file

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte may still sack Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente, Malacañang said Wednesday even after the chief executive gave the latter a chance to clean up the corruption mess in the Bureau of Immigration.

The President’s warning of a looming mass firing in the BI "reaches all those involved," his spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters in Malacañang.

"No sacred cows. Basta corruption ayaw niya (Duterte) 'yun," Panelo said.

Duterte on Tuesday night said he would complete the list of Immigration personnel that he would fire over bribery reports, hinting that among those he would sack are his fraternity brothers.

“Ayaw ko kasi ‘yung iba, kilala ko, kaya lang ang iba mga brad ko. ‘Yung iba were with me in ‘88 when I first ran for the mayorship...” he said.

(I don’t want to because I know some of them, others were my fraternity brothers. They were with me in ’88 when I first ran for the mayorship...)

Morente will “most likely” be excluded from the list, Panelo said but noted that the former Davao police chief can be held liable if there is evidence against him.

"Kung may ebidensya na involved siya (Morente) eh di na siya makakaligtas," he said.

(If there is evidence of his involvement then he cannot escape.)

The Immigration bureau has been hounded by corruption allegations after lawmakers uncovered the so-called “pastillas” bribery scheme where Chinese nationals who illegally work at Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) hubs pay Immigration personnel, and Chinese and Filipino travel agencies P10,000 in grease money rolled in bond paper—similar to the look of the local milk candy.

The President had earlier ordered the relief of all BI personnel allegedly involved in the scheme, but spared Morente as he vouched for the former police chief’s integrity.

Morente, according to Panelo, presented to the President initiatives on how to handle the corruption mess in the Immigration bureau during the Cabinet meeting on Monday night.