Where’s the evidence? Palace says of Tulfo claims vs Aguirre
MANILA, Philippines — Citing the gravity of the allegations, Malacañang on Monday said that claims leveled by veteran journalist Ramon Tulfo against former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II as protector of the syndicate facilitating the purported “pastillas” scheme within the Bureau of Immigration (BI) should be investigated.
At a Senate committee hearing on crimes connected to Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos), Tulfo identified Aguirre as the top official allegedly involved in the bribery scheme, which he divulged in his column.
But such allegations should be backed up with sufficient evidence, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in an interview with the INQUIRER.
“That’s a serious accusation. Kailangan meron kang ebidensya,” Panelo said.
Panelo, who is also President Duterte’s chief legal counsel, then urged the columnist to provide information to proper authorities for investigation.
“I think Mr. Tulfo would know what to do with whatever information he has. He has to share that to the proper authorities,” he said.
Tulfo, in his February 25 Manila Times column, said whistleblower and immigration officer Allison Chiong told him that a top official is receiving his “share of the loot” via a chartered helicopter from Manila.
Under the “pastillas” scheme revealed by Chiong, Chinese nationals pay P10,000 as “service fee” or grease money for special treatment as they enter the Philippines. He claimed that the amount will be shared by airport and immigration personnel.
The expose prompted Duterte to order the relief of all officials and employees of the BI involved in the illicit activity.
Sought for his comment, Aguirre denied the allegations, calling it an “absolute lie.”
Aguirre resigned as Justice Secretary in March 2018 after being implicated in the controversial dismissal of the complaint against alleged drug lords Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa, and others.
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