JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday revealed that his predecesor Vitaliano Aguirre II was already being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation long before the so-called pastillas scheme was made public.
“The NBI has already been investigating all these things since last year, even before Mr. (Ramon) Tulfo made his revelations based on undisclosed sources,” Guevarra said in a Viber message.
But Guevarra assured Aguirre that he will be given a fair investigation by the department he once served.
“It is my understanding that ex-SOJ (Secretary of Justice) Aguirre has requested to be given an opportunity to refute the allegations against him at the continuation of the Senate committee hearing. As far as the DOJ is concerned, any action will be based solely on competent evidence, irrespective of the identity or status of the subject,” Guevarra said in his Viber message.
Testifying before the Senate, Tulfo linked Aguirre to the “pastillas” scheme which allowed Chinese visitors to seamlessly enter the country in exchange for bribes.
“Based on what was told to me by Mr. Chiong, he is the protector of the syndicate, former Secretary Aguirre,” Tulfo told the Senate.
Allison Chiong is the immigration officer who blew the whistle on the immigration scandal.
Aguirre vehemently denied Tulfo’s revelation, saying he had already filed a string of libel and cyber libel cases against Tulfo “because of these same defamatory accusations.”
“All these complaints filed almost two years ago are now pending before the RTCs (regional trial courts) of Manila,” Aguirre said.
“I will again file new cases against Tulfo. Kahit saan, I could face anybody for I am completely innocent of his charges,” Aguirre continued.
Under the pastillas racket, a Chinese citizen pays a P10,000 “service fee” – P2,000 of which will allegedly be shared among officials of the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU), duty Immigration supervisor, and terminal heads.
The remaining P8,000 will then be given to tour operators and syndicates who will transport the Chinese from the airport to POGO facilities.
It was also disclosed during a previous Senate hearing that blacklisted Chinese fugitives would pay as much as P200,000 to “freely” enter the country.