BI implements total revamp of NAIA personnel amid ‘pastillas’ mess
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has implemented a total revamp at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals in the wake of the controversial “pastillas scheme,” which allowed the illegal entry of Chinese nationals into the country in exchange for bribes.
“Bureau of Immigration’s continuing reform and transformation efforts, a total revamp in NAIA Terminals 1-3 has been implemented effective immediately,” BI chief Jaime Morente said in a statement on Thursday.
Morente said the revamp covers all BI personnel at the NAIA terminals, from the Port Operations Division (POD), Terminal Heads to counter personnel.
The POD chief, however, will not be affected by the revamp. Morente said the Department of Justice (DOJ) will act on the matter.
The “pastillas” scheme, which was exposed at a Senate hearing by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, showed some BI airport personnel facilitating the entry of Chinese nationals who will eventually work for Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos).
It was gathered that BI personnel receive the P10,000 bribe money per Chinese national rolled up like the popular milk candy “pastillas”.
President Rodrigo Duterte also relieved all the Immigration personnel involved in the bribery mess.
Morente also asked the National Bureau of Investigation to help investigate Chinese and Filipino travel agencies linked to the controversial money-making scheme.
“These agencies, as mentioned in the Senate hearing, have counterparts both in China and in the Philippines who reportedly receive bulk of the grease money given by Chinese nationals who avail of said VIP treatment,” Morente said.
“We seek assistance from law enforcement agencies to expand the probe and file criminal cases against erring immigration personnel and these private entities as well, to break the chain of corruption and finally put an end to this illegal scheme,” he said.
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