Duterte said Morente should be available to respond to the allegations against his bureau.
Geremy Pintolo/ File
More to be sacked over 'pastillas' bribery but Morente to stay for now
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - February 26, 2020 - 8:12pm

MANILA, Philippines — Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente remains in his post pending the congressional probe on the alleged bribery scheme that paved way to the illegal entry of some Chinese nationals, President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday.

Duterte said Morente should be available to respond to the allegations against his bureau.

"I think there is going to be an investigation by Congress. I defer to Congress first before I make a decision...so that whatever is said (about the issue), he would be there (to respond). He tells the story from where he stands," the president told reporters in Malacañang.

"I am not going to do anything. Not yet. Not after the investigation. But I think the secretary of justice is also doing his homework. Whoever comes first, but if there will be somebody who will tell me that these are the things which should have not happened or have happened," he added.

While Morente retains his post, Duterte is bent on relieving other Immigration officials tagged in the so-called "pastillas" scheme.

"I am insisting on the ouster of all involved. I think we have terminated...but there will be more," Duterte said.

"I think there are officials who have left. But this should be replaced. All of them. and I am asking the commissioner of the civil service to give me a list of first grade, those who passed (the civil service examination) with good records scholastically. They can give me the names. I will replace almost all of them," he added.

The "pastillas" scheme reportedly involved the bribing of Immigration personnel to facilitate the entry of Chinese nationals who would later work for Philippine offshore gaming operators. The grease money were supposedly folded like pastillas, a popular Filipino dessert.  

Duterte previously said he "loves" Morente, whom he described as "kind."

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo had said the scheme was a "grave form of corruption which cannot be countenanced by the government."

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