Hontiveros lauds filing of criminal raps vs 19 BI personnel in ‘pastillas’ scam
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday welcomed the filing of criminal charges against 19 Bureau of Immigration (BI) personnel tagged in the so-called “pastillas scam.”
“The filing of cases against these BI personnel is a welcome development in our efforts to remove the network of corruption which enabled the illegal entry of countless Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogo) workers from China, along with the various crimes associated with them,” she said in a statement.
The filing of charges, Hontiveros added, is a “major step forward in protecting the country’s borders and the welfare of Filipinos, especially women and children.”
It was in February when Hontiveros led a series of Senate Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality committee hearings, where the “pastillas” scam was exposed, involving immigration officials receiving kickbacks in exchange for the seamless entry of some Chinese nationals into the country.
Under the scheme, corrupt immigration officers, who colluded with tour operators, provided “VIP treatment” to Chinese who want to work for Pogos illegally for a P10,000 “service fee.”
The 19 BI officials, meanwhile, were charged in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Special Action Unit.
The senator then commended the NBI for the filing of criminal charges.
“We commend the NBI for taking decisive action against those who have betrayed the country and contributed to the victimization of many Filipino women and children,” she said.
She also expressed hope that more BI officials, as well as the travel operators tagged in the scheme, will be charged as well.
“In our committee hearings, the evidence presented pointed to how systemic and far-reaching the ‘pastillas scheme’ was. There were people in the higher levels of the BI who were supposedly on the take and benefiting from this illegal enterprise,” she said.
“Kung gusto natin matigil ang paglabag sa ating batas at ang pagabuso sa ating kababaihan at kabataan, kailangan natin mahanap at makasuhan ang bawat padrino at backer na nakikinabang sa kalokohang ito,” she added.
(If they want to put a stop on the violations of our laws, as well as the abuse against our women and youth, we need to find and charge every godfather and backer who benefitted from this scheme.)
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