IMMIGRATION Commissioner Jaime H. Morente yesterday welcomed the investigation into the controversial “pastillas scheme” at a hearing conducted at the Senate by Senator Risa Hontiveros over the weekend.
Morente said that the leadership of the Bureau of Immigration welcomes the efforts to cleanse the ranks of all his personnel involved in unethical and corrupt practices. “We will cooperate with any impartial probe and lifestyle check to be conducted by authorities,” he said.
“As the Commissioner, 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,” Morente said in a statement.
It was learned that the BI has placed all of the accused in the Administrative holding office and have cancelled all their privileges. And, they shall observe due process as they bring the accused to the court of justice, Morente said.
“This incident and the corresponding consequences should serve as a strong warning and reminder to others not to engage in any unethical practices,” Morente further said.
As added measures to deter and expose any more illegal activities, the BI chief included new protocols in the conduct of secondary inspections in open areas to improve transparency and installation of additional CCTV cameras in all areas of the primary inspectors.
“Despite this damaging blow to the momentum of innovation and change, the men and women of the Bureau of Immigration are committed to sustaining the reform efforts which have resulted in the expanded implementation of the BI E-Gates in major international airports, streamlining of the procedures for BI Frontline Services, enhancement of technologies in all BI offices, capacitating employees through trainings and workshops, the arrest and/or deportation of identified members of terrorist organizations and illegal foreigners, and the awarding of ISO 9001:2015 Certification for Entry and Exit Formalities, among others,” Morente stressed.
“I call on every member of the Bureau to remain professional and focused on performing our duties and responsibilities in protecting our borders and securing our gateways from the entry of any and all threats. As frontliners in border security, we must continue to remain unfazed by the hazards of the job, including the threat of the COVID 19 outbreak to the health of Immigration Officers as well as the cloud of doubt arising from this issue that has put the reputation and character of every Immigration Officer in question,” Morente said.
“The Bureau and its personnel have been tested by various issues in the last few years, and despite these trials, we have remained steadfast, strong in our adherence to the values of patriotism, integrity, and professionalism. Once again, let us focus on doing our job and doing it well,” the BI chief ended his statement.