The anti-graft court has reset the arraignment and pre-trial proceedings against Bureau of Immigration (BI) executives and employees accused of involvement in a pastillas bribery scheme to Sept. 9.
In a July 6 resolution, the Sandiganbayan’s Seventh Division granted several defendants’ motions to stop the proceedings on the case filed against them.
It cited that the prosecution was “directed to resolve within 60 days from July 6, 2022, or until Sept. 4, 2022 the motions for reconsideration that were filed within the period and compliant with the requirement provided in the Office of the Ombudsman Administrative Order No. 07 dated 10 April 1990.”
“[T]he arraignment and pre-trial for all accused, except Jeffrey Dale Salameda Ignacio, who to date has not filed his bail bond, scheduled on 8 July 2022 is CANCELLED and RESET to September 9, 2022 at 8:30 o’clock in the morning at the SB Multi-Purpose Hall, 6/F Sandiganbayan Centennial Building,” it stated.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the accused were told to refrain from bringing companions during the court proceedings, while the law firms representing them were told to keep the number of associates attending to a bare minimum.
The Ombudsman filed graft charges with the Sandiganbayan against the 42 BI personnel allegedly involved in the pastillas scheme.
Those involved allegedly allowed the entry of foreigners without proper documentation in exchange for cash concealed in a small paper wrapper.
The Ombudsman accused ex-deputy commissioner Marc Mariñas of the Port Operations Division conspired with other immigration personnel and Liya Wu of Empire International Travel and Tours, to “willfully, unlawfully and give unwarranted benefits, preference or advantage to foreign passengers, particularly Chinese nationals.”
The group was accused of collecting a fee of P10,000 per passenger for a total amount of P1.43 million, in violation of Section 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.