SOME CHINESE nationals who are linked to the so-called “pastillas” scheme involving immigration officials could ultimately face deportation said Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra.
Mr. Guevarra said in a message to reporters Friday that both the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are currently investigating the scheme in which select Chinese nationals arriving at the airport receive VIP treatment when they give Immigration officials rolls of money wrapped in paper. The scheme is so named because the rolls look a native treat called pastillas. The scheme was unearthed by lawmakers earlier this week.
If any of the Chinese nationals in the list uncovered by the lawmakers turn out to be improperly documented, “they will be deported immediately,” said Mr. Guevarra. “[B]ut if they are legitimate, but were merely extended ‘escort service’ by some BI personnel for a fee, then it’s the latter who will be dealt with accordingly.”
According to Immigration Officer and whistleblower Allison A. Chiong who testified at a senate probe on Thursday, a number of the Chinese involved in scheme had previously been blacklisted and had to come to the country through a “special arrangement.”
Mr. Chiong, who admits that he took part in the scheme himself, is now being screened for the witness protection program (WPP) said Mr. Guevarra.
“We took him in upon the request of Senator (Risa) Hontiveros and the Senate President (Vicente C. Sotto III) due to security concerns. He (Mr. Chiong) will be evaluated thoroughly by the WPP before he could be considered for full coverage,” he said.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday announced through his spokesperson that he had relieved all the immigration officials involved in the “pastillas” scheme. The BI on Thursday said it had already dismissed 18 of is officials and is still probing the matter. — Gillian M. Cortez