Martires doubts ‘pastillas’ scheme link to Ombudsman office

Published October 23, 2020, 3:16 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Ombudsman Samuel Martires has cast doubts on the accusation made by “pastillas” scheme whistleblower Jeffrey Dale Ignacio that the masterminds of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) have a “contact” within the Office of the Ombudsman.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires (MANILA BULLETIN)

Ignacio, Immigration Officer II of the BI, tagged Port Operations Division chief Marc Red Mariñas as the leader of the “pastillas” scheme during a Senate hearing. He even alleged that Mariñas has a “contact” in the Ombudsman.

The multi-billion “pastillas” scheme involved immigration officers collecting money for the entry of Chinese nationals in the country. Ignacio is one of the 19 respondents tagged by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Martires said on Friday that the statements made by Ignacio are “nakakaduda” (doubtful), especially since they have tightened security in all of their offices. Those who wish to enter their office have to be included in a list, and they also have to present an ID.

Had Mariñas really visited his alleged “contact” in the Ombudsman, Martires said they would have known about it based on their lists and logbooks. To debunk Ignacio’s claims, Martires said they have given all their logbooks from the time of the lockdown to the NBI, and even issued a certification that Mariñas never visited their office on July.

It’s possible that Mariñas is coordinating with his contacts via phone calls, so Martires said they are conducting their own probe regarding the matter. There’s just one problem: “Everyone will become a suspect, even the Ombudsman will become a suspect,” he said.

The Ombudsman is hoping that Ignacio would just name the supposed “contact” instead of making a general accusation. He said Ignacio was “unfair” because his accusation became a “blind item” that can turn anybody a suspect.

“Let Ignacio identify who that person is para malaman naman namin kung sino (so we would know who that person is),” he said.

Martires admitted that they are now relying on the investigation being spearheaded by Senator Risa Hontiveros, because the Senate might have better luck squeezing the truth out of Ignacio and Mariñas.

“The problem is we’re facing a blank wall in the investigation because we have no lead,” he said. “So, we are hoping that Senator Hontiveros will be able to unearth who the contact is.”