BI personnel back to work after suspension on ‘pastillas’ scheme; no new assignments

Published July 28, 2021, 3:22 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Bureau of Immigration

Most of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials and personnel who are now facing criminal complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) for their alleged involvement in to so-called “pastillas” scheme have served their six-month suspension and have returned to their offices.

But Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said on Wednesday, July 28, “most of them have not been given assignments while their cases remain pending.”

He said it is up to the BIR commissioners “to give these subject personnel any new assignments.”

Under the “pastillas” scheme, those charged BI officials and employees reportedly received bribed money to facilitate the entry of foreigners, particularly Chinese nationals.

The scheme was dubbed “pastillas” because the alleged bribe money is wrapped in white paper to make it look like the Filipino candy delicacy.

On Sept. 1, 2020, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed the first complaint against 19 BI officials and employees before the OMB on charges of violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act under Republic Act No. 3019.

On Nov. 3, 2020, the NBI filed another complaint involving 86 BI officials and personnel, some of whom were already charged in the first complaint.

Subsequently, the OMB issued a six-month suspension against those charged. The suspension has been served.

Guevarra said “the preliminary investigation being conducted by the OMB is still going on” as well as “the administrative proceedings being conducted by the DOJ.”

On the administrative proceedings being conducted by the DOJ, Guevarra said that his office can order the dismissal of immigration officers if evidence warrants because it is the DOJ that appoints them.