Pres. Duterte vouches for Morente’s integrity as he directs filing of charges vs corrupt immigration personnel

President Rodrigo Duterte congratulates one of the graduates of the Public Safety Officers Basic Course Class 2019-07 and the Public Safety Officers Advance Course Class 2019-18 during a ceremony at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Davao City on February 20, 2020. ARMAN BAYLON/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO


(Eagle News) – President Rodrigo Duterte said that he had told Bureau of Immigration commissioner Jaime Morente to file charges against all those involved in corruption at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), as he vouched for the integrity of the immigration chief.

With the filing of criminal and administrative charges, the corrupt immigration personnel would then be dismissed, he said.

This was in connection with the so-called “pastillas” scheme at the airports where Chinese nationals seeking VIP treatment for their entry in the country would pay P10,000 rolled up in paper to avoid detection, resembling the Philippine sweet delicacy “pastillas.”

Duterte said that he had ordered the termination of all of those to be found involved in this corruption scheme, but also reiterated his trust for the immigration chief.

He said he knows that Morente is a very good man, and that he had been a very good chief of police in Davao City.

“Kahapon I terminated all sa — kay Morente. Itong si Morente, mahal ko ‘yan kasi chief of police ‘yan dito, mabait ‘yan,” President Duterte said in his speech on Thursday, Feb. 20, in Davao City during the joint graduation ceremony of the Public Safety Officers Basic Course Class, and Advance Course Class.

Duterte said that he had talked to Morente who had told him about the corruption in the bureau, and about the inadequacies in addressing this by the immigration chief.

“So hindi niya kaya. Sabi niya… Limitado man rin kasi,” the President said.

“Sa inyong lahat sa NAIA, sabi ko file-lan (file) mo ng kaso tapos pinaalis ko na. With the end in view of dismissal,” he said.

-Duterte to Morente:  “Just do your work”-

Duterte told Morente to just do his work as he still believed in him.

He also cited what happened before in addressing the corruption at the Bureau of Customs where he had dismissed 83 personnel.

“Iyong sa Customs, 83 of them were dismissed. So do not tempt the gods — we are not gods. I’m saying just a figure of speech. Do not tempt the gods. Just do your work, I will protect you. Stay aligned,” Duterte added.

-BI whistleblower details “pastillas” corruption at terminals-

Earlier, the Senate conducted a hearing probing the alleged “pastillas” scheme at the airport terminals and heard the testimony of an immigration officer who named the officials involved in the scheme.

Whistleblower and Immigration Officer Allison “Alex” Chiong said that the payment of the P10,000 service fee which served as grease money for a special entry treatment by Chinese nationals was done systematically.

He said that upon arrival by the Chinese national whose entry had already been tipped beforehand, the immigration officer on duty would tell him to follow him to an office where his entry would be processed.

This is in contradiction to the standard practice of processing his passport at the immigration booth.

Photo grab of the so-called “pastillas” scheme during the Senate hearing on the issue conducted by Senator Risa Hontiveros. The photos were shown by Bureau of Immigration whistleblower Allison “Alex” Chiong. (Courtesy Meanne Corvera, Eagle News Service)

Chiong said that Chinese fugitives would even be allowed entry as their passports would not be scanned to avoid arrest.
He said that the fees for Chinese fugitives could even run from P50,000 to P200,000, or even millions for high profile fugitives.

Morente, on Monday, Feb. 17, already relieved five NAIA terminal immigration officials, including the head of the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU).