Senate panel to probe ‘new flavor,’ more expensive ‘pastillas’ racket
MANILA, Philippines — A Senate panel that unearthed the “pastillas” immigration scheme will resume its inquiry to investigate a “new flavor” of the scam, in which Chinese nationals allegedly pay P550,000 each for a seamless entry into the country.
“Parang may loose thread pa na kailangan naming balikan at ibuhol tungkol dito sa pastillas dahil nag-evolve pa. Nag-mutate,” Hontiveros said in an interview over Teleradyo on Tuesday.
(It seems that there is still a loose thread that we need to look into and tie up in this “pastillas” scam because it evolved, it mutated.)
“Kung dati P10,000 ngayon P550,000 na per head. Akala ko nga po Covid-19 lang ang nagmu-mutate, pati pastillas scam na rin pala, parang bagong flavor na ng pastillas,” she added.
(Before it was P10,000 now it’s P550,000 per head. I though only Covid-19 mutates, it turns out even the “pastillas” scam does as well, it’s like a new flavor of pastillas.)
As chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, Hontiveros earlier led a Senate investigation into the so-called “pastillas” scam, which allows the smooth entry of Chinese nationals into the country in exchange for a P10,000-service fee.
Before this, Hontiveros’ panel investigated sex-trafficking linked to Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos).
Visa upon arrival
The senator also expressed her opposition anew to the visa upon arrival (VUA) system for Chinese nationals, saying her committee will recommend its cancelation.
The VUA program, a joint project of the Department of Tourism and the Department of Justice, was launched in 2017 to attract Chinese tourists and tour groups.
The Bureau of Immigration has suspended the implementation of the VUA program in January last year.
“Sa ngayon wala pa pong final announcement na totally ika-cancel, pero siguradong isasama po namin yan na rekomendasyon sa aming committee report,” Hontiveros said.
(As of now, there’s still no formal announcement that the system will be canceled but for sure, we will recommend it in our committee report.)
She added that Chinese nationals seem to be the favored “customer” of immigration schemes.
“Sila ang napapaburan. Para sa kanila rin dinedesign ang iba’t ibang mga scheme na ‘to whether ‘pastillas’ or VUA or ngayon na itong bagong mutation at flavor ng pastillas,” she said.
(They are the ones being favored. These schemes are designed for them, whether it be the ‘pastillas’ scam or the VUA system, and now this new mutation and flavor of pastillas.)
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