Now it’s ‘diplomas for sale’ raising a stink

Now it’s ‘diplomas for sale’ raising a stink

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:32 AM April 19, 2024

Sen. Risa Hontiveros

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB)

Is this a new chapter of the “pastillas scam”?

Sen. Risa Hontiveros posed the question on Thursday as she and her Senate colleagues expressed alarm over reports that diplomas or degrees are now being conferred on foreign students in the country, particularly to Chinese nationals, for a price.


Some of the students reportedly did not attend their classes but only shelled out P2 million to obtain their degrees.


READ: Some Chinese students in Cagayan allegedly pay P2 million to get degrees

Hontiveros saw parallels between this alleged scheme and the so-called pastillas scam, a bribery racket uncovered in 2020 during an inquiry she initiated centering on the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

Lax treatment

The scam was given the name because the cash paid for some BI personnel to let Chinese arrivals skip proper immigration procedures was wrapped in pieces of paper, rolled in the way the sweet delicacy is also packaged.

The lax treatment was mainly accorded to Chinese nationals who would be employed by Pogos or Philippine offshore gaming operators.

READ: Senators sound alarm over Chinese students’ activities in Cagayan

Hontiveros said she would file a resolution asking the Senate to look into possible violations of immigration policies that allowed the alleged “diplomas for sale” scheme to go unchecked.


Send clear message

Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Joel Villanueva also called on the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and the National Security Council to investigate.

“CHEd must impose appropriate penalties or sanctions on HEIs (higher education institutions) and their officials who condone such practices,” said Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on basic education.

“We should send a clear message to our country and the world: Diplomas from Philippine HEIs are not for sale.”

If true, Villanueva said, the scheme “does not only diminish the integrity of our education system but might also have implications on our national security.”

VUA suspension

Hontiveros said “the Senate should also look into the reported presence of Chinese nationals around Enhance Defense Cooperation Agreement sites. This is a national security concern that must be addressed.”

She noted that the Visa Upon Arrival (VUA) system and other immigration processes had been abused in the past to allow the unchecked entry of Chinese nationals working for Pogos.

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“Our hearings on the pastillas scam led to the suspension of the VUA system at that time. The same might apply in this alarming new development,” she added.

TAGS: Chinese, diplomas, Risa Hontiveros

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