Lacson: BI revamp won’t succeed if greed, corruption not eradicated
MANILA, Philippines— A total revamp at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) may be the right step, but it is greed and corruption that should be eradicated since these are the reasons behind the money-making schemes of the BI’s airport personnel, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said Friday.
“While the Bureau of Immigration’s reshuffle of its airport personnel may be a step in the right direction, it will have little success if it does not eradicate greed and corruption,” Lacson said in a statement.
The BI has implemented a total revamp at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) terminals following the controversial “pastillas scheme” which allowed the illegal entry of Chinese nationals in exchange for bribes.
Lacson said he does not believe that low pay nor lack of overtime benefits are behind the airport personnel’s motive to get involved in an illegal scheme, which he said had already been happening for a while.
“The huge payoffs involved in the racket or scheme in the BI have been going on for quite some time. It is not a consequence of low pay and lack of overtime benefits, but of greed and corrupt attitudes of government workers who are clothed with the power and authority that go with their positions,” Lacson said.
“Suspension or termination of overtime pay and non-inclusion in the salary hike of other government employees should never be a reason for corrupt BI personnel to justify the illegal acts they commit to augment their income. That is crap, and I am not buying it,” he added.
While there are benefits that come with being in public service, Lacson said this should not put government workers above those in the private sector.
“Noong pumasok kami bilang mga kawani ng gobyerno, alam naman namin ang mga limitations, even sacrifices, as well as the benefits that go with being in public service,” Lacson said.
(When we became government workers, we knew the limitations, sacrifices and benefits that go with being in public service.)
“But even the so-called benefits are governed by rules and regulations, and should not put us above our counterparts in the private sector,” he added.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, during a Senate hearing, revealed that an arriving Chinese national shells out a P10,000 service fee, of which P2,000 will be divided among officials of the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit, duty Immigration supervisor, and terminal heads.
The scheme was called “pastillas” supposedly because the bribe money would be rolled in paper like the wrapping of a “pastillas,” a Filipino milk candy.
President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, earlier ordered the relief of all Immigration officials involved in the alleged “pastillas” scheme.
More BI officials will be sacked but BI chief Jaime Morente retains his post as Congress probes the supposed bribery modus, Duterte said.
Edited by MUF
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