MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday welcomed the filing of charges against 19 immigration officials over the so-called "pastillas" bribery scheme that allowed the unimpeded entry of Chinese tourists into the country.
Hontiveros, as chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, led legislative inquiries into the scheme where illegal Chinese workers come to the Philippines as tourists and pay P10,000 as grease money so they could enter even without the proper work visas.
"Hindi pwedeng maging pugad ang ating bansa ng mga krimen mula sa ibang bansa na ipagpapatuloy dito sa ating sariling bansa. At hindi sapat na ilantad lang 'yung mga gumagawa ng krimeng ito," she told ANC.
(Our country cannot be a nest for crimes in other countries. It's not enough to just reveal those behind these crimes.)
"Accountability pa rin. 'Yung dapat managot ay dapat panagutin."
(There should be accountability and those behind these crimes should be held liable.)
Hontiveros credited witnesses who were victimized with crimes related to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator firms such as human trafficking, prostitution, and illegal detention.
"Also this was the fruit of those young women, mga menor de edad (minors), who were also rescued on a raid on an illegal POGO establishment, who had been victimized by prostitution for this Chinese-only POGO companies," she said.
"Yung pastillas scheme illegally allowed the entrance of Chinese nationals in the country, leading to the spike in different POGO-related crimes like human trafficking, prostitution, illegal detention at ito ngang pag-corrupt mismo ng ating (and the corruption of our) Bureau of Immigration."
Police data earlier showed gambling-related incidents of kidnapping involving Chinese more than doubled to 38 in 2019 from 16 in 2018.
The Chinese embassy had said crimes and illegal activities involving its citizens were "isolated" cases.