Duterte unaware ‘pastillas’ scam-linked personnel not yet fired

Published July 29, 2021, 2:35 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte is pushing for the dismissal of the immigration personnel implicated in the alleged “pastillas” money-making racket after learning they were merely suspended from office.

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26, 2021. (Malacañang)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque admitted that the President was unaware that the concerned immigration personnel have not yet been dismissed from service.

The President, in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, July 26, took pride of his anti-corruption efforts, including the removal of 43 immigration personnel allegedly involved in the bribery scandal.

Under the scheme, money rolled up in a paper resembling the Filipino sweet delicacy was handled to immigration personnel at the airport in exchange for easy entry of foreigners, particularly Chinese nationals, into the country.

After the President’s SONA, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra disclosed that most of the immigration officials and employees facing complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman have actually resumed work after serving their six-month suspension.

“Siguro po obvious ang sagot hindi pa siguro alam ni presidente hindi pa sila nasisisante (The answer is probably obvious. Maybe the President is not aware that they have not yet been fired),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday, July 28, when asked if the President knew about the concerned BI personnel returning to work.

“Pero siguro po ang epekto ng kanyang mga binatawang salita, ‘yan po ay mandato sa DOJ , sa CID gawin ninyo lahat para masisante ‘yan sa lalong mabilis na panahon (But the impact of his statement is the mandate of DOJ, CID to do everything so all of them will be dismissed as soon as possible),” he said.

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

Roque insisted that the erring immigration personnel must be dismissed from service.

“Hindi po katanggap-tanggap ‘yung ginawa nilang pastillas scheme. Kinakailangan talaga sibakin sila (The pastillas scheme they did was unacceptable. They must be really fired),” he added.

Last year, authorities filed complaints against dozens of immigration officials and personnel before the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged involvement in the pastillas scheme. The Ombudsman issued a six-month suspension against those charged.

In November 2020, the President summoned 40 immigration personnel to the Palace for a dressing down and dared them to eat the money rolled like pastillas. When he spoke about his anti-corruption drive in public speeches, he usually trumpeted about the dismissal of the BI personnel implicated in the bribery scandal as part of his campaign against corruption in government.

Last Monday, Duterte reported such anti-corruption achievement in his sixth and final address to the nation.

“Alam mo, I don’t know if you perhaps have come to know about this. I have ‘yung Pastillas sa ano sa airport ( on the pastillas scam at the airport) There were 43 personnel involved. I fired them all,” Duterte said.

READ: Duterte says martial law needed to stamp out gov’t corruption