Panelo: Complaint must be filed for gov’t to probe alleged ‘pastillas’ escort scheme

Published February 18, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling

A complaint on the alleged bribery scheme involving some immigration officials and offshore gaming workers must be filed to prompt a government investigation, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo (PCOO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo (PCOO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the concerned party must come forward and present proof about the alleged irregularities in the gaming industry, and gave the assurance that there will be no sacred cows in the probe.

“There’s nothing to investigate in the first place unless there is a complaint,” he said in a Palace press briefing. “Right now, there is only an allegation. If there is an allegation, then that must be proven.”

A Senate investigation has revealed an alleged money-making scheme by some immigration personnel who supposedly allow into the country Chinese working for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs).

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate panel probing the issue, claimed that foreign nationals pay P10,000 as “service fee” or grease money in exchange for special treatment from the immigration office.

The illicit activity was reportedly dubbed “pastillas” scheme because the money is wrapped in rolled bond paper. The cash bundles look like the sweets the scheme is named after.

Panelo said if a complaint is not filed, “we will never know if there is any anomaly.”

“Even if these are being subject of talks in media, in columns, unless there is a complaint filed, we will never know. You have to submit proof so that we can do something,” he added.

Asked if the President still trusts Immigration chief Jaime Morente, Panelo said: “Until he says otherwise, the assumption is he has confidence on him.”

Panelo said the government would take action if such bribery scheme is proven. “Any violation, any transgression, any anomaly — the Palace frowns on it and will act on it if there are complaints formally filed before its office.”

“If those will be proven, then there is something wrong with the operation of the POGO, then the government has to do something about it. Until such time, the presumption is they’re performing regular tasks in accordance with law,” he added.