Raps filed vs. ‘pastillas’ scam mastermind, suspects welcome — Hontiveros

Published November 6, 2020, 3:29 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday welcomed the filing of criminal charges against the alleged mastermind of the so-called “pastillas” scam or the multi-billion peso bribery scheme that hounded the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“I am pleased to know that the alleged mastermind, former Bureau of Immigration (BI) ports chief Marc Red Mariñas, along with 85 others, has finally been charged by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI),” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“Lubos ang aking pasasalamat sa ibinigay na tiwala sa akin ng aming mga whistleblowers at ng NBI (I’m sincerely thankful for the trust given to me and to our whistleblowers and the NBI),” the senator added.

Hontiveros, however, said that despite the filing of the charges, the Senate committee on women and children will continue its probe into the alleged corruption in the BI and the alleged sex trafficking and prostitution activities involving Chinese-owned and operated Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) companies.

She said that Senate panel’s investigation into the issue has revealed a festering pool of corruption in the BI and “potentially, in other institutions as well.”

The lawmaker said she believes the Senate panel’s probe will be able to uncover bigger names involved in the scam.

“It’s not over. I have always said that our Senate inquiry into the ‘pastillas’ scam will not end until we catch the ‘big fish’ behind this illegal multi-billion-peso racket,” she said.

“Naniniwala ako na may mas malalaking pangalan pa ang sangkot dahil sa laki, lawak, at lalim ng mga illegal business venture na ito na nakapalibot sa Visa Upon Arrival scheme at human trafficking ng mga Pilipina palabas ng Pilipinas (I believe there are bigger names that are involved here due to the huge and deep illegal business venture that surrounds this Visa-Upon-Arrival (VUA) scheme and also outbound human trafficking),” she said.

“Hindi kami titigil hangga’t hindi nabibigyang hustisya ang ating mga kababaihan at ang ating bansa (we won’t stop until we are able to provide justice to our women and to our nation),” Hontiveros added.

The senator said she is most grateful for Dale Ignacio and Alex Chiong, two immigration officers who blew the whistle on the supposed bribery scheme. Both have tagged Mariñas as the mastermind of the said modus, which the latter vehemently denied.

“Hindi madali ang tumindig laban sa korapsyon at lumaban sa mga criminal na nagsasamantala n gating mga institusyon (It’s not easy to stand against corruption and to fight criminals who are taking advantage of our institutions),” she pointed out.