The Bureau of Immigration has relieved 20 immigration officers allegedly involved
in the “pastillas” scheme
―the facilitation of the entry of thousands of Chinese nationals who will work for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators
in exchange for bribes.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente vowed to punish all immigration officers
involved in corrupt practices at the airport. He also welcomed the efforts to purge all personnel involved in unethical and corrupt practices.
“We will cooperate with any impartial probes and lifestyle checks to be conducted by authorities,” Morente said.
“I am very disappointed with the unauthorized activities of some personnel who continue to commit irregularities despite our determined efforts to get rid of the culture of corruption in the Bureau since 2016.
“On the other hand, I am certain that after this exposé, the intense public scrutiny and accompanying trial by publicity that the Bureau has been subjected to will only ensure that we come out stronger as we weather yet another storm.
“We have placed all of the accused in the Administrative holding office and have canceled all their privileges. We shall observe due process as we bring the accused to the court of justice. This incident and the corresponding consequences should serve as a strong warning and reminder to others not to engage in any unethical practices.”
Meanwhile, the 1,000-strong Immigration Officers Association of the Philippines Inc. assured the public that the majority of its members remained focused on their duties as gatekeepers.
“Not even the threat of epidemics and allegations of corruption against some officers will dampen their morale and their vigilance in guarding our borders against unwanted aliens,” Er German Robin, IOAP president, said.
Robin said the IOAP fully supported the ongoing investigation being conducted by the Senate, National Bureau of Investigation and the BI Management into the “pastillas” scam, saying the organization would never tolerate any wrongdoing by its members.
He said the IOAP was duty-bound to extend legal assistance to its members who are under investigation “to ensure that their rights are protected and because they, too, are entitled to due process and presumption of innocence unless proven guilty of the allegations against them.”
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