Duterte vouches for BI’s Morente amid ‘pastillas scheme’ controversy

Marje Pelayo
President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has nothing but good words for Immigration head Jaime Morente despite the recent corruption issues hounding the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

The agency has been in hot water following the expose of Senator Risa Hontiveros on the alleged bribery scheme dubbed as “pastillas” operations happening at Immigration counters involving frontline personnel receiving payouts from Chinese nationals in exchange for hassle-free entry to the Philippines.

These Chinese nationals, who enter as tourists, allegedly end up working for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO).

“Itong si Morente, mahal ko iyan, kasi chief of police iyan dito. Mabait iyan,” the President speaking highly of Morente during a police rite in Davao City.

The President said he ordered Morente to file appropriate charges against those involved in the scheme.

During a Senate hearing on Thursday (February 20), key witness Allison Chiong disclosed his full knowledge of the said illegal practice which happens to involve at least 90 percent of BI’s personnel.

Kung bibigyan ko kayo ng parang percentage, para po sa akin mga ten percent na lang ang hindi kasama sa modus (If you would ask me of a percentage, I would say only about 10 percent (of the employees) are not involved in the modus operandi),” he told senators.

Following the expose, President Duterte ordered the relief of several immigration officers proven to have participated in the ‘pastillas scheme.’ — MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

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