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Immigration to probe ‘pastillas’ scheme for POGO workers

/ 06:23 PM February 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) will conduct its own investigation into the reported “pastillas” modus or illegal airport escort service catering to Chinese nationals wanting to work at the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO).

BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente was “deeply alarmed” by the reported scheme where bribe money amounting to P10,000 was rolled and wrapped in bond paper resembling the Filipino milky delicacy.

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“Commissioner Morente is deeply alarmed at the exposé of the good Senator Risa Hontiveros during today’s Senate hearing. He has ordered a full blown investigation to identify those who are possibly part of this syndicate to file both administrative and criminal cases against them,”  she said.

Sandoval said the BI will coordinate with other offices and agencies in the investigation including its mother department, the Department of Justice (DOJ).

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DOJ Undersecretary Markk Perete, who has supervision over the BI, said they would closely monitor the BI’s investigation on its personnel who may be accepting bribes from arriving foreigners.

“The Department of Justice is closely following the legislative investigation at the Senate. We understand that the Office of the Commissioner of Immigration will initiate its own investigation on the matter. The department will closely monitor and supervise this investigation to ensure that those responsible will be held to account,” said Perete.

Senator Hontiveros said that under the scheme, each arriving Chinese national pay an additional P10,000 service fee, of which the P2,000 is divided among officials of the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), duty Immigration supervisor and terminal heads.

The remaining P8,000 is given to tour operators and “syndicates” who will transport the Chinese nationals from the airport to POGO sites.

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TAGS: bribery, Bureau of Immigration, pastillas scheme, pogo, Senator Risa Hontiveros
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