President Duterte relieves immigration officials, employees linked to “pastillas” corruption scheme

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)


(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte has relieved officials and employees of the Bureau of Immigration who are linked to the extortion scheme on Chinese nationals seeking VIP treatment of their entry into the country.

This bolstered the earlier moves by Immigration commissioner Jaime Morente relieving and replacing the terminal heads at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and the head of the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU).

Under the so-called “pastillas” scheme, the Chinese nationals were being escorted in the airport for P10,000 each which is rolled up in bond paper, similar to how the Philippine dessert delicacy “pastillas” looks, to avoid detection.

“The President considers this anomaly, which some define as the ‘pastillas scheme’ as a grave form of corruption which cannot be countenanced by the government,” said presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Panelo did not name the BI officials who were ordered relieved by the President.

“Any official or employee who commits any wrong in the performance of their respective duties shall be meted out with the punishment that they deserve and in accordance with our penal laws,” he said.

On Monday, Feb. 17, Immigration Commissioner Morente relieved and replaced five bureau officials, particularly the terminal heads at the NAIA, pending the results of the investigation.

This was after the commissioner learning of the allegations during the Senate hearing conducted by Senate Risa Hontiveros on the alleged “pastillas” scheme.

On Thursday, Feb. 20, an immigration officer, Allison Chiong, testified at the Senate hearing on the corruption scheme at airport terminals, naming the bureau personnel involved in this.

He revealed that the former heads of the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) namely Bien Guevarra, Glenn Comia, and Den Binsol are still involved in the operations and are even maintaining them through alleged syndicated groups even if they are no longer with the bureau.