Duterte unaware 43 BI officials linked to ‘pastillas’ scheme not fired
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte was not aware that the 43 Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials allegedly involved in the so-called pastillas scheme that he claimed to have already been fired were not actually fired, Malacañang said Thursday.
In his final State of the Nation Address (Sona), Duterte said he had kicked the officials from government service as a testament to his drive against corruption.
However, no less than Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra himself said the officials had already returned to work after a six-month suspension without pay. He said they were not fired because the investigation of their cases is still ongoing.
“Hindi po siguro alam ni Presidente na hindi pa sila nasisante,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.
However, Roque added, based on his pronouncement in the Sona, Duterte surely wants the officials out.
“Ang epekto ng kanyang binitawang mga salita, ‘yan ay mandato sa Department of Justice na gawin ang lahat para masisante ‘yan sa lalong mabilis na panahon,” he said.
(His pronouncement is in effect a mandate to the DOJ to do everything to get them out of government service as soon as possible.)
“Hindi katanggap tanggap ‘yung ginawa nilang pastillas scheme. Kinakailangan talaga na sibakin sila,” he added.
(What they did is not acceptable. They should be fired.)
Corrupt BI personnel have allegedly pocketed roughly P40 billion to facilitate the entry of thousands of Chinese nationals, many of whom intended to work illegally in online gaming outfits in the country, since 2017.
The pastillas scheme, called as such because the bribe money was rolled up in a manner that made it look like the popular Filipino milk-based candy, was exposed during Senate hearings led by Senator Risa Hontiveros in February 2020.
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