Wed. Sep 22nd, 2021

MANILA – Malacañang on Wednesday said that as soon as there is probable cause, rogue officials and personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) will still face graft charges for their alleged involvement in the “pastillas” racket at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday bared that he is finalizing a list of BI officials and personnel he will dismiss over their involvement in the bribery scheme.

Panelo said Duterte will fire them “as soon as he finds probable cause for them to be removed.”

“Wala naman siyang binanggit (He did not mention when he will fire them) but knowing the President it will come soon. Sooner than we think,” he said in an interview in Malacañang.

Asked of BI Commissioner Jaime Morente’s possible inclusion on Duterte’s list, Panelo maintained that there will be “no sacred cows.”

Panelo earlier said that Duterte is giving Morente a chance to fix the mess hounding his department. However, he remains subject to the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI)’s ongoing investigation.

“Kung merong ebidensiya na involved siya di rin siya makakaligtas (If there is evidence that shows he is involved, he will not be off the hook),” he said.

He maintained that Duterte will never tolerate corruption within the government.

On Tuesday, Duterte said some of the officials on his list were his fraternity brothers from the San Beda University-based Lex Talionis Fraternitas.

“Ayaw ko kasi ‘yung iba kilala ko. Kaya lang ‘yung iba mga brod ko. Iyong iba (I don’t like it because some of them I know personally. But some of them are my brods. Others) were with me in ‘88 when I first ran for the mayorship, that was ‘88, ’98,” he said.

However, Duterte did not bare their names.

He earlier ordered the relief of around 19 BI personnel after receiving reports and finding probable cause to remove them from the bureau due to their supposed unlawful money-making activity.

Around 800 BI personnel have been reshuffled in compliance with Duterte’s directive to revamp the bureau.

Morente said the practice of rotating and changing assignments on a regular and programmed basis is both a method to enable better performance and encourage skill upgrades and a precaution against graft and corruption.

Besides the shakeup, Duterte said he would ask the Civil Service Commission to give him a list of “first-grade” passers who have “good” scholastic records to replace the erring BI personnel. (iam/

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