Duterte completing list of BI officials to be sacked
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he was already completing a list of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials that he would fire.
Duterte issued the pronouncement amid the so-called pastillas scheme controversy hounding the BI through which airport personnel allowed the illegal entry of Chinese nationals in exchange for bribes.
“Today I think I have to complete the list of officials that I need to fire, to dismiss from the Bureau of Immigration,” Duterte said in his speech during the oath-taking of newly-appointed government officials.
According to the President, the list includes those whom he personally knows — either as Lex Talionis fraternity brother or someone who had been with him since 1988 when he first ran for mayor of Davao City.
“Early on, I fired my fraternity brothers, with whom I expected some help — some of my closest friends who were with me in my mayorship days. It leaves me sad. But I hope you understand, but I really didn’t know,” he said, speaking partly in Filipino.
Duterte had warned that more officials from the BI would be sacked due to the pastillas scheme.
He already earlier ordered the relief of Immigration personnel involved in the scheme.
Following this directive, the BI itself implemented a total revamp of its personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President had given BI chief Jaime Morente another chance to address the issues of the agency.
Also recently, Duterte publicly expressed his support for Morente.
Despite this, Morente is not yet off the hook since a probe of the controversy is still ongoing, Panelo said.
It was Sen. Risa Hontiveros who bared at a Senate hearing the pastillas scheme, through which an arriving Chinese national shell out a P10,000 “service fee,” of which P2,000 would be divided among officials of the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit, duty Immigration supervisor, and terminal heads.
The scheme was called “pastillas” because the bribe money would supposedly be rolled in a sheet of bond paper similar to the way pieces of Filipino milk candy of the same name are packaged.
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