Malacañang announced on Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte was unaware that 43 Bureau of Immigration officials were involved in the “pastillas” scheme or modus operandi of receiving the money to allow foreigners without sufficient documents to enter the country had returned to work.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after Justice Secretary Menardo confirmed that he would return to work and did not fire the 43 officials initially suspended. The investigation into the “pastillas” scheme was underway.
“Their six-month preventive suspension has lapsed. They have reported for work at the main office, not at their previous assignments in the airport terminals. Those who were under job order arrangements have been terminated,” said Guevarra.
“The Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice are winding up their investigations,” he added.
In Duterte’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, the Chief Executive said that the 43 BI officials had been fired.
“Siguro po, obvious ang sagot, hindi po siguro alam ni Presidente, hindi pa sila nasisisante. Ang alam lang niya, nasuspinde,” said Roque.
“Pero siguro po ang epekto ng kaniyang mga binitawang salita, iyan po ay mandato sa DOJ, sa BID gawin ninyo ang lahat para masisante iyan sa lalong mabilis na panahon,” he added.
Duterte unaware BI employees involved in ‘pastillas’ scheme back to work
According to Roque, it is not acceptable to be involved in the pastillas scheme.
“Kinakailangan po talaga sibakin sila,” he said.
Under the scheme, Chinese nationals were allowed to enter the Philippines as tourists and later work for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) firms.
The Chinese allegedly pay immigration employees and Chinese and Filipino travel agencies P10,000 in grease money rolled in bond paper, like the popular Filipino dessert delicacy “pastillas.”