DOJ sacks 18 BI execs, employees over ‘Pastillas Scheme’

June 10, 2022 Hector Lawas 115 views

A TOTAL of 18 Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials and employees were dismissed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday following their alleged involvement in the so-called “Pastillas Scheme,” where Chinese visitors can seamlessly enter the country in exchange for bribes.

This was after the BI officers and employees have been found administratively “liable” for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.

“The 18 respondents have been meted out the penalty of Dismissal from the Service, with the imposition of the proper accessory penalties,” DOJ Assistant Secretary Neal Bainto said.

Just the other day, outgoing Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed that the administrative case against them will be resolved soon.

“The resolution of the separate administrative case is also forthcoming. But the list of respondents in the administrative complaint is not the same set of respondents in the criminal complaint, which was submitted by the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to the OMB (Ombudsman). It is the resolution of the administrative case that will determine the disciplinary action that may be taken against the respondents therein,” Guevarra said in a message.

Under the Pastillas Scheme, Chinese visitors can seamlessly enter the country in exchange for bribes.

A Chinese citizen pays a P10,000 “service fee” – P2,000 of which will allegedly be shared among BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) officials, 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 (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators) facilities.

During Senate hearings, it was also disclosed that blacklisted Chinese “fugitives” would pay as much as P200,000 to “freely” enter the country.

On Tuesday, June 7, graft probers filed graft charges against dozens of BI officials and staff over the “Pastillas” bribery scheme before the Sandiganbayan.

Among those who will be charged with violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act are a deputy commissioner and head of the Port Operations Division, including three senior immigration officers.

Bail for the immigration officials and staff indicted has been recommended at P90,000 each.