DOJ to probe Immigration ‘pastillas scheme’

February 17, 2020

JUSTICE Undersecretary Markk Perete yesterday said that the Bureau of Immigration -- an attached agency of the Department of Justice -- will conduct a formal investigation into the revelation of Sen. Risa Hontiveros about the alleged “pastillas scheme” in which a Chinese visitor can pay P10, 000 in exchange for a “trouble-free” entry into the country. 

“The Department of Justice is closely following the legislative investigation at the Senate. We understand that the Office of the Commissioner of Immigration will initiate its own investigation on the matter. The Department will closely monitor and supervise this investigation to ensure that those responsible will be held to account,” Perete said in a message to reporters. 

Earlier, Hontiveros disclosed during the resumption of the Senate investigation into crimes connected to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs)  that corrupt immigration officials have allegedly received an estimated total of P1 billion “kickback” from Chinese visitors in exchange for a smooth entry into the country. 

Each Chinese can pay P10,000 service fee to corrupt immigration personnel.

“Bakit parang may VIP escort itong mga Chinese nationals papasok ng bansa?” Hontiveros asked.

“ Ayon sa aming informant, ang bawat Chinese national, maraming POGO workers, ay naga-apply para sa tourist visas sa iba’t-ibang consulates natin sa ibang bansa. Pero dagdag sa kanilang visa fee, P10,000 na service fee paniguradong hindi ka masisisita sa immigration ng Plipinas at mayroon ka pang welcome committee,” she said.

“Sa P10,000 yan, P2,000 ang nakararating sa ating airport. Pinaghahatian sa level ng airport. So nasaan yung P8,000, ayon sa aming informant, distributed na bago pa man makarating sa airport,” she added.

Hontiveros said that according to her informant, the alleged P2,000 pay-off that trickles down to airport immigration officers is broken down into six parts.

Twenty-three percent of the P2,000 or P470 goes to the duty immigration supervisor; 32.5 percent or P650 to the immigration officer; 14 percent or P280 goes to the travel central enforcement unit; 12 percent or P240 to the border control and intelligence unit; 13 percent or P260 to operations (admin or clerical workers) and five percent or 100 to the terminal head.

“Ayon sa aming informant, mas lumakas ang ganitong modus dahil sa libu-libong mga POGO workers na dumarating sa bansa araw-araw,” Hontiveros said.