Removal of BI staff’s overtime pay spawned ‘pastillas’ racket – whistleblower
MANILA, Philippines — Elimination of immigration officers’ overtime pay in 2016 gave birth to the so-called “pastillas” scam at the airport.
This was according to immigration officer Allison Chiong, who was Senator Risa Hontiveros’ informant on the corruption scheme allegedly involving airport and immigration personnel that she exposed during a Senate hearing early this week.
Based on Hontiveros’ exposé, Chinese citizens pay P10,000 each to get “VIP treatment” by immigration employees who facilitate their smooth arrival in the country to mostly work in the Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGOs). This shady system, she said, was named “pastillas” as the bribe money was supposedly rolled in a bond paper much like how a popular local sweet delicacy is wrapped.
“In 2016, the Department of Justice removed the overtime pay of immigration officers. Consequently, this resulted in general unrest and disgruntlement among the immigration workforce,” Chiong said in his opening statement Thursday at the resumption of the Senate hearing into crimes linked to POGOs.
“To cope with the substantial deduction of their salaries, some immigration officers decided to offer VIP service for immigrants who are casino high-rollers,” he added.
Under the “pastillas” scheme, a Chinese citizen pays a P10,000 “service fee” – P2,000 of which will be shared among officials of the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit, duty Immigration supervisor, and terminal heads. The remaining P8,000 will then be given to tour operators and syndicates who will transport the Chinese from the airport to POGO facilities.
“This VIP service involves immigration officers collecting P2,000 for each high-roller, in exchange for the latter’s convenient and seamless immigration,” Chiong added.
Edited by KGA
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.