Lifestyle check on immigration staff welcomed

February 19, 2020

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday supported the recommendation of opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros to conduct a lifestyle check on Bureau of Immigration personnel accused of involvement in corruption.

“A lifestyle check is not conclusive, but only indicative, of a government employee’s possible unethical conduct. Be that as it may, I support Sen. Hontiveros’ recommendation to conduct such a lifestyle check on suspected corrupt personnel of the BI...” Guevarra said in a statement sent to reporters.

At the same time, Guevarra asked the National Bureau of Investigation to submit a progress report on its investigation into BI personnel’s alleged complicity in other nefarious activities like human trafficking, escort services, and extortion.

“I have asked NBI chief (Dante Gierran) to submit a progress report, ASAP,” he continued.

Earlier, Hontiveros disclosed during the resumption of the Senate investigation into crimes connected to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs)
that corrupt immigration officials have allegedly received an estimated P1 billion in “kickbacks” from Chinese visitors in exchange for a smooth entry into the country.

This has become known as “pastillas modus” wherein a Chinese visitor can pay P10,000 service fee to corrupt immigration personnel.

“Bakit parang may VIP escort itong mga Chinese nationals papasok ng bansa?” Hontiveros asked.

“Ayon sa aming informant, ang bawat Chinese national, marami Pogo workers, ay naga-apply para sa tourist visas sa iba’t-ibang consulates natin sa ibang bansa. Pero dagdag sa kanilang visa fee, P10,000 na service fee paniguradong hindi ka masisisita sa immigration ng Plipinas at mayroon ka pang welcome committee,” she said.

“Sa P10,000 yan, P2,000 ang nakararating sa ating airport. Pinaghahatian sa level ng airport. So nasaan yung P8,000, ayon sa aming informant, distributed na bago pa man makarating sa airport,” she added.

Hontiveros said that according to her informant, the alleged P2,000 pay-off that trickles down to airport immigration officers isbroken down into six parts.

Twenty-three percent of the P2,000 or P470 goes to the duty immigration supervisor; 32.5 percent or P650 to the immigration officer; 14 percent or P280 goes to the travel central enforcement unit; 12 percent or P240 to the border control and intelligence unit; 13 percent or P260 to operations (admin or clerical workers) and five percent or 100 to the terminal head.

“Ayon sa aming informant, mas lumakas ang ganitong modus dahil sa libu-libong mga POGO workers na dumarating sa bansa araw-araw,” Hontiveros said.