Duterte unaware 'pastillas' officers he 'fired' are still with Immigration bureau: spokesman
President Rodrigo Duterte did not know that the Immigration personnel he said he fired for alleged corruption were in truth still in government service, his spokesman said on Thursday.
Duterte said during his State of the Nation Address on Monday that he fired 43 Immigration personnel involved in the so-called "pastillas" scheme that allegedly allowed Chinese citizens into the country in exchange for money.
But Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirmed Wednesday that these personnel had gone back to duty and were not fired.
Siguro po, obvious ang sagot, hindi po siguro alam ni Presidente, hindi pa sila nasisisante. Ang alam lang niya, nasuspende
(Perhaps the obvious answer is that maybe the President did not know that they were not fired; what he knew was they were suspended.)
"Pero siguro po, ang epekto ng kaniyang mga binitawang salita, iyan po ay mandato sa DOJ, sa CID, gawin ninyo ang lahat para masisante iyan sa lalong mabilis na panahon. Hindi po katanggap-tanggap iyong ginawa nilang pastillas scheme; kinakailangan po talaga sibakin sila," he said in a press briefing.
(But perhaps the effect of what he said is that will be a mandate for the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Immigration to do everything to fire these personnel as soon as possible. The pastillas scheme they did is unacceptable; they should be fired.)
Under the alleged scheme, the Chinese enter the Philippines as tourists and later work for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) hubs, paying immigration personnel and Chinese and Filipino travel agencies around P10,000 in grease money, rolled in bond paper like the "pastillas" delicacy.
"I have ‘yung 'pastillas' [scam] sa ano, sa airport. There were 43 personnel involved. I fired them all. Talagang pinaalis ko sa gobyerno," Duterte said in his nearly 3-hour long final SONA.
(I dealt with the pastillas scam at the airport... I removed them from government.)
In 2016, Duterte promised voters that he would crush corruption, crime, and drugs in 3 to 6 months within taking office.
But his administration has been dogged by scandals and allegations of graft and cover-ups in state agencies ranging from prisons, the state insurer, immigration, airports and customs, to police and the drugs enforcement agency, few of which led to convictions or high-profile resignations.
The Philippines fell 14 notches to 113th spot among 180 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index in 2019. Last year, the country further slipped to 115th.
– With reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News; Reuters