Aguirre invited to senate quiz

Vitaliano Aguirre

SENATE Committee on Women, Family Relations and Gender Equality Chairperson Risa Hontiveros will invite former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to the next hearing on the so-called pastillas bribery scheme in the Bureau of Immigration. 

This developed after columnist Mon Tulfo tagged Aguirre as a protector of the bribery scheme that allows the unimpeded entry of Chinese tourists into the country.

Tulfo said information provided by immigration whistleblower Allison “Alex” Chiong revealed that a cut of the “pastillas” bribes was delivered via helicopter to Aguirre in Mulanay, Quezon.

“Siya po ang protektor ng sindikato base sa ni-report sa akin ni Mr. Chiong,” Tulfo told the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality inquiry. 

Tulfo also accused Aguirre of “castrating” the powers of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente and arrogating unto himself the power to hire, fire and reassign immigration personnel. 

Aguirre yesterday strongly denied accusations by Tulfo who linked him to the alleged “pastillas” scheme of unscrupulous immigration people.

In a statement sent to reporters, Aguirre disclosed that he had already filed a string of libel and cyber libel cases against Tulfo “because of this same defamatory accusations.”

“All these complaints filed almost 2 years ago are now pending before the RTCs (regional trial courts) of Manila,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre said that he would ask Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who is leading an inquiry into crimes connected to Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos), to invite him and Tulfo to a hearing “so I could refute them and tell Tulfo to his face that he is a liar.”

“I will again file new cases against Tulfo. Kahit saan, I could face anybody for I am completely innocent of his charges,” Aguirre said.

Meanwhile, former Immigration officer Marc Red Mariñas denied all allegations against him and stressed that he knew nothing about the pastillas scheme.

Marinas also denied using a helicopter to deliver bribes to Mulanay and accused Chiong of “producing and directing” a video that showed the alleged pastillas scheme that catered to Chinese tourists. 

On the other hand, the former Immigration officer confirmed that a certain Fidel Mendoza seen in the helicopter with him was his former staff assistant.

Mendoza, a former security guard, is now part of the administrative division, the immigration bureau said. 

Hontiveros, in an ambush interview said that they might need another hearing on the issue before drafting their committee report.

With Hector Lawas