PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night summoned the more than 40 Bureau of Immigration officials and personnel implicated in the “Pastillas Scheme” to Malacañang and offered them to eat money rolled like the popular Filipino sweet.
According to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the President initially wanted them to eat the ‘pastillas’ but changed his mind out of deference to him (Guevarra).
Instead, Mr. Duterte gave the Immigration people an option to either eat the pastillas right that moment, or donate the rolled money to beggars on the street instead.
When asked how much money was rolled like pastillas, Guevarra answered in the negative and said: “ No one unrolled his/her pastillas. It was really more a symbolic act on the part of the president.”
“The President apparently intended to give them a dressing down. During the short meeting, he distributed pastillas to the BI personnel. Money had been rolled inside each pastillas, according to the President. he wanted them to eat the pastillas, But did not insist ‘out of deference to the secretary of justice who was also present.’”
“ He (Duterte) said, either you eat it or give it to the first beggar you see. In the end, he stated that the cases had been filed and that they simply had to face them. No one among the BI personnel dared to utter a word. End of the meeting, ” bared Guevarra.
Aside from Duterte and Guevarra, present during the meeting were Senator Bong Go, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Immigration chief Jaime Morente, and National Bureau of Investigation Officer-In-Charge Eric Distor.
Under the “Pastillas” scheme, a Chinese visitor can seemlessly enter the country for paying bribes to Immigration officials and personnel
A Chinese citizen pays a P10,000 “service fee” – P2,000 of which will allegedly be shared among officials of the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), duty Immigration supervisor, and terminal heads.
The remaining P8,000 will then be given to tour operators and syndicates who will transport the Chinese from the airport to Pogo facilities.
It was also earlier disclosed during past congressional hearings hearing that blacklisted Chinese fugitives would pay as much as P200,000 to “freely” enter the country.
The NBI has filed a complaint against BI personnel in connection with the “pastillas” scam before the Office of the Ombudsman.
They were charged with violations under Sections 3(a) and 3(j) of RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
These Immigration officials and personnel have already been relieved from their posts.