'Pastillas' scheme whistleblower under witness protection custody, says Guevarra

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
'Pastillas' scheme whistleblower under witness protection custody, says Guevarra
Immigration Officer I Allison Chiong sat as resource person at the Senate inquiry on February 20, 2020.
The STAR / Mong Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — Immigration officer Allison Chiong, “pastillas” scheme whistleblower, is now under the custody of Department of Justice’s Witness Protection Program, said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra Friday.

“The whistleblower is under the custody of the WPP. We took him in upon the request of Sen. Risa Hontiveros and the Senate President [Vicente Tito” Sotto III] due to security concerns,” Guevarra told reporters in a message.

The Justice chief said that the WPP will evaluate Chiong thoroughly before he can be given full coverage of the state protection program.

The WPP is a program under the Justice department and created through Republic Act 6981, "to encourage a person who has witnessed or has knowledge of the commission of a crime to testify before a court or a quasi-judicial body, or before an investigating authority, by protecting him from reprisals and from economic dislocation."

Immigration Officer I Chiong narrated before the Senate panel Thursday that Bureau officers check arriving Chinese passengers against a list, provided by Chinese travel agencies and would be let in the country “without screening or profiling” for a fee.

Chiong also named BI officers who supposedly took part in the scheme: Totoy Magbuhos, Deon Albao (alias “Nancy”), Paul Borja (alias “Lisa”), Anthony Lopez (alias “AL”) and Dennis Robles (alias “DR”), who occupy various plantilla positions within the bureau.

He also identified Bien Guevarra, Glenn Comia and Den Binsol, chiefs of the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit of terminals at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. They supposedly "took over" collecting fees from Chinese passengers for their "seamless" entry into the country.

'Undocumented' Chinese nationals to be deported

Guevarra also said that Chinese nationals who entered the country without proper documentation through the “pastillas” scheme will be deported.

The Bureau of Immigration and the National Bureau of Investigation are conducting probes into the “pastillas” scheme where “special privileges” are given to Chinese passengers for a fee.

Guevarra told reporters: “If the Chinese nationals named in the list turn out to be improperly documented, they will be deported immediately.”

“But if they are legitimate, but were merely extended ‘escort service’ by some BI personnel for a fee, then it’s the latter who will be dealt with accordingly,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte sacked all the Immigration officers who may be involved in the scheme, which started in 2016 when the veto on the use of Express Lane Fund for overtime pay of employees took effect.

Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval 18 employees have been put under “floating status” following Duterte’s order and pending investigation. The list of sacked officials may also expand as the probe continues, she added.




  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with