Ex-envoy tags Aguirre as 'protector' of BI 'pastillas' syndicate | Inquirer News
'share of loot' shipped via helicopter

Ex-envoy tags Aguirre as ‘protector’ of BI ‘pastillas’ syndicate

/ 01:37 PM March 02, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II allegedly gave protection to a syndicate facilitating the purported “pastillas” bribery scheme within the Bureau of Immigration (BI), former presidential special envoy to China and columnist Ramon Tulfo told a Senate hearing Monday.

During the Senate hearing on crimes connected to the Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos), like prostitution and trafficking, Senator Risa Hontiveros asked Tulfo about his previous column regarding the said bribery scheme.

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Tulfo, in a February 25 column, quoted whistleblower and immigration officer Allison Chiong as saying that a top official is receiving his “share of the loot” via a chartered helicopter from Manila.

“Sabi niyo may chartered helicopter na ginagamit ang mga taga-BI para iabot sa isang top official ang kanyang ‘share of the loot’ at ang probinsya ng top official na ito sabi niyo ay six hours away from Manila,” Hontiveros asked Tulfo. “Sino po yung top official po na yon?”

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“Si former Secretary Aguirre po… Siya po yung protektor nung sindikato base po dun sa ni-report sa akin ni Mr. Chiong,” Tulfo replied.

The BI is an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

It was then Secretary Aguirre who appointed in 2016 former Ports Operation Division chief Marc Red Mariñas, who Chiong earlier linked to the said “pastillas” scheme.

Under the “pastillas” racket, a Chinese citizen pay a P10,000 “service fee” – P2,000 of which will allegedly be shared among officials of the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), 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.

‘Absolute lie’

Sought for his comment, Aguirre denied the allegations.

“The charges of Ramon Tulfo are absolute lies and complete fabrications of Tulfo. I was told that he was the only one saying that in the Senate. That even his so-called whistleblower did not say what he was accusing me of,” he said in a message to reporters.

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The former justice chief said he had already filed numerous libel and cyber libel charges against the columnist “because of this same defamatory accusations.”

“All these complaints filed almost 2 years ago are now pending before the RTCs (regional trial courts) of Manila,” Aguirre said.

The former DOJ chief said he would ask Hontiveros, who is leading the said inquiry, to invite him and Tulfo in a future hearing “so I could refute them and tell Tulfo to his face that he is liar.”

“I will again file new cases against Tulfo. Kahit saan, I could face anybody for I am completely innocent of his charges,” he said.

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TAGS: BI, Bureau of Immigration, Nation, News, pastillas scheme
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