Villanueva hails filing of charges vs. BI personnel in ‘pastillas’ trafficking scheme

Published September 3, 2020, 4:07 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Joel Villanueva lauded on Thursday the filing of charges against Bureau of Immigration (BI) personnel that were allegedly involved in the money-making scheme which allowed the entry of illegal foreign workers in the country.

Sen. Joel Villanueva
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“We regret the fact that the people who patrol our borders are the same people who are behind the scheme of allowing illegal foreign workers to slip through. The filing of charges against immigration personnel is a welcome development in our fight to stop the entry of illegal foreign workers, and we trust that the NBI would continue to pursue this case,” Villanueva said in a statement.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Tuesday filed a criminal complaint against 19 BI officers and personnel over the so-called “pastillas” trafficking scheme, wherein bribes were reportedly given to officers to facilitate the express entry of foreigners, mostly Chinese, who would later work in the country despite their lack of necessary documents.

It also recommended to the Ombudsman the filing of graft and administrative cases against the officials, as well as their immediate suspension to avoid them from influencing the investigations.

Villanueva, meanwhile, called on the BI to continue its counter-intelligence efforts and cleanse its ranks.

“Our immigration personnel should be really circumspect about the people they allow to enter because they might be allowing individuals with criminal intentions, and this creates problems with our law enforcement as we have been showing in our public inquiries,” said the senator, who chairs the Senate labor committee.

Villanueva has been lamenting about the surge of illegal foreign workers in the Philippines which he said is robbing Filipinos of job opportunities and causing other socio-economic problems.

He noted that the illegal workers were eventually employed by Philippine offshore gaming operations that were also criticized for violations of the country’s tax and labor laws.

He urged the NBI and other law enforcement agencies to continue their efforts in hunting down illegal foreign workers.