NBI: Second whistleblower in 'pastillas' scheme applied to WPP
This screenshot shows Immigration Officer Jeffrey Dale Ignacio. Photo taken from the livestream of the Senate of the Philippines of its Committee on Women hearing on October 6.
Screengrab from Senate of the Philippines livestream

NBI: Second whistleblower in 'pastillas' scheme applied to WPP

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - October 28, 2020 - 11:59am

MANILA, Philippines — Immigration Officer Jeffrey Dale Ignacio, the second whistleblower in the “pastillas” scheme controversy, has applied for the Department of Justice’s Witness Protection Program.

National Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin, also spokesperson of the agency, confirmed this on Wednesday morning. “No results yet,” he added.

Ignacio also remains under the custody of the NBI, Lavin also said.

He testified before the Senate Committee on Women’s legislative hearing into the corruption allegations in the immigration. Ignacio has accused former POD chief Marc Red Mariñas of being the “ringleader” of the bribery scheme, an allegation that the former BI official denied.

NBI Special Action Unit chief Emeterio Dongallo Jr. said last week that Ignacio’s testimony can help them get closer to identifying the “big bosses” in the money-making scheme at the immigration.

The first whistleblower, IO Allision Chiong, is already under the WPP.

According to the DOJ website, the WPP seeks to encourage a person who witnessed or has knowledge of a crime to testify before a court or quasi-judicial body “by protecting him from reprisals and from economic dislocation.”

If an applicant is qualified to be a witness, he will enter into a memorandum of agreement with the government, and will be given protection services, housing facility and immunity from criminal prosecution.

Republic Act 6891 or the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act states an accused discharged from an Information (charge sheet) or criminal complaint by the court may be admitted to the WPP, upon petition, if he complies with other requirements of the law.

Hontiveros appeals for reconsideration of Ombudsman suspension vs Ignacio

In September, the NBI filed graft raps against 19 BI officials before the Office of the Ombudsman. The highest official sued was then-Ports Operations Division chief Grifton Medina, who was since reassigned as BI’s chief of personnel section.

More than a month later, the Ombudsman issued preventive suspension orders against 44 Immigration officials and personnel linked to the “pastillas” scheme, including Ignacio who was one of the respondents in the NBI’s complaint.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, said the Ombudsman’s suspension order is a welcome development in their investigation, but appealed to the Ombudsman to reconsider its suspension order against the Ignacio.

“Having led the pastillas scam inquiry for almost 10 months now, I am gratified to see that the sacrifices of our whistleblowers, the fruits of our labor, and the diligence of our law enforcers can bring erring officials to justice,” she said in a statement.

RELATED: Hontiveros: Aguirre a 'person of interest' in Senate 'pastillas' bribery probe

Hontiveros added: “I hope the Ombudsman can consider reversing this order against Dale as his testimony, which completed the picture of the corrupt system in the BI, has been invaluable in our Senate probe as well as the NBI’s own investigation.”

The NBI is continuing its investigation into the pastillas scheme and said they will file a second batch of complaints.

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