Ombudsman Samuel Martires imposed Tuesday a 6-month preventive suspension to 44 Bureau of Immigration (BI) personnel allegedly involved in the pastillas scheme.
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.”
Last month, the National Bureau of Investigation said it filed criminal charges against 19 employees of the Immigration allegedly involved in the scheme.
Former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre
II was also tagged in the pastillas scheme.
Columnist Ramon Tulfo named Aguirre as the “godfather” and “protector” of the notorious multi-billion-peso scheme.
Ombudsman suspends 44 BI employees tagged in ‘pastillas scheme’
“Siya po ‘yung naga-assign ng personnel ng immigration sa airport. Ibig sabihin niyan, hindi pwedeng sila sila lamang, yung mga immigration officer sa airport. Kailangan may puno iyan, may godfather, Ang godfather po niyan is Aguirre,” Tulfo alleged During the Senate committee investigation into the anomaly early this month.
(He is the one to assign the immigration personnel. This means that the officers involved in the scam cannot just be working on their own. There needs to be a tree, a godfather. The godfather is Aguirre.)
Aguirre denied the allegation and dared Tulfo to file a case against him to prove his accusations.
Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) a Bureau of Immigration security guard
for his connection with the pastillas scheme due to his possession of property worth up to P14 million even though his salary is only P10,000 per month.
The NBI Special Action Unit official said that the security guard declared in his SALN
(statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth) in 2018 the total assets amounting to more than P14 million.
The security guard allegedly declared that he had bought a house worth P4.5 million, had jewelry, two SUV vehicles, and traveled abroad eight times a year, including Japan, America, and Europe.
Aside from the security guard, an Immigration officer also showed rapid property growth based on the SALN