Nagumpisa sa pagalis ng OT! 90% of BI staff have fingers dipped in ‘pastillas’ scam – whistleblower
Bureau of Immigration officer Allison Chiong told senators that 90 percent of all officials and employees in his agency are involved in the ‘pastillas’ and other corruption schemes.
Chiong, who started in the BI in 2012, said he has “personally witnessed” various extortion schemes in exchange for unimpeded entry or departure in the country.
In his affidavit read before the Senate panel, Chiong said immigration personnel started with the money-making scheme to offset lost earnings when the Department of Justice removed the overtime pay of all immigration officers in 2016.
To cope with the substantial deduction of their salaries, he said some immigration officers decided to offer “VIP services” to immigrants who are casino high-rollers, accepting P2,000 for each high-roller in exchange for the latter’s “convenient and seamless immigration.”
Chiong said the “lucrative operations” were later taken over by former
BI-Travel Control Enforcement Unit (TCEU) chiefs Bien Guevarra, Glenn
Comia, and Den Binsol, who were then all under Red Mariñas, former
chief of the Ports Operation Division.
He said Guevarra, Comia, and Binsol were relieved from their former posts in the middle of 2019 but still maintain the syndicate group’s operations.
On the other hand, Mariñas was assigned as BI associate commissioner but later resigned to run as mayor of Muntinlupa City.
Soon, “other syndicated groups” in the BI joined in the money-making scheme and began submitting their own list of Chinese tourists who would also want to avail of easy entry with a fee.
Chiong identified the heads of the “other syndicated groups” as Totoy Magbuhos, Deon Albao, Paul Borja, Anthony Lopez, and Dennis Robles, whom he said occupy various plantilla positions within the BI.
The money-making scheme was dubbed “pastillas” as payoffs were rolled in bond papers resembling a Philippine milk candy delicacy.
“Each cooperating immigration officer would receive around P20,000 weekly for Terminal 1 duties and P8,000 weekly for Terminal 3 duties… Someone among the group would shout ‘It’s pastillas time!’ each time the money is already divided,” Chiong said, and admitted that he has also been receiving “pastillas.
He said he was compelled to expose the illegal activities after watching the Senate’s inquiry on the rise of POGO-related prostitution in the Philippines.
Senator Risa Hontiveros said Chiong has already been placed under the Witness Protection Program after receiving death threats earlier this week.
She said Senate President Vicente Sotto III has also guaranteed to grant whistleblower immunity from cases.