Bring it on, Risa: BI welcomes Senate corruption probe

Published February 23, 2021, 5:19 PM

by Jun Ramirez

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has denied Sen. Risa Hontiveros’s claim that the agency has been unable address the issue of corruption in the service.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said that since last year when the so-called “pastillas” scheme was exposed, 86 immigration officers detailed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAiA) have been suspended and charged with graft before the Ombudsman.


The BI chief said he welcomes another round of inquiry by the Senate, as proposed by the lady solon, following the arrest of a law firm travel representative demanding exorbitant immigration fees from clients.

Vivian Lara of the Calalang Law Office was nabbed by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents at the BI main office in Manila after receiving P900,000 in marked money from three Chinese nationals.

The money was supposedly meant to facilitate the release of their travel documents.

Hontiveros believed that the incident wasn’t solated and was instead indicative of the lucrative and continuing racket between bureau insiders and some travel agents.

However, Morente said that the management “has been unrelenting in its efforts to eradicate all forms of corruption” and that it was “dedicated to serve with integrity and professionalism.”

The pastillas racket refers to the grease money given to Immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport by travel agents who want to facilitate the entry of their foreign clients to the country.