MANILA – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has filed criminal charges before the Office of the Ombudsman against 19 Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers and personnel for their alleged involvement in the “pastillas” money-making scheme while assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
In a statement, NBI Officer-In-Charge Director Eric B. Distor identified the BI personnel as Grifton San Pedro Medina, Deon Carlo Albao, Fidel Mendoza, Abdulhafez dela Tonga Handjibasher, Gabriel Ernest Estacio, Ralph Garcia, Phol Villanueva, Abdul Calaca, Danilo Deudor, Mark Macababad, Aurelio Lucero III, George Bituin, Salahudin Hadjinoor, Chevy Naniong, Jeffrey Ignacio, Hamza Pacasum, Manuel Sarmiento III, Cherry Pie Ricolcol, and German Robin.
Liya Wu, private individual and owner of Empire International Travel and Tours, was also recommended to be charged for the crime of corruption of public officials.
Distor also said one of the subjects, Immigration Officer (IO) Jeffrey Ignacio, was likewise recommended to be additionally charged for qualified trafficking in persons under Republic Act 9208 for recruiting a lady Taiwanese citizen to work in the Philippines and facilitating an easy entry into the country despite the fact that she was only a holder of a tourist visa.
He said the Taiwanese citizen, after a week, was forcibly transferred to a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) company which she subsequently discovered to be illegal. Her passport was confiscated, abused physically and mentally, and forced to work until she was rescued by the NBI-Special Task Force (NBI-STF) on Feb. 3, 2020.
Distor said a whistle blower, an Immigration officer, testified under oath on the alleged money-making activity, referred to among the culprits as “pastillas” scheme.
According to the whistle blower, the immigration officers and personnel involved in the scheme allegedly conspired in requesting and receiving money, gifts, and other benefits, including sexual favors from trafficked foreign women.
The immigration officers and personnel allegedly allowed foreign nationals entry in the country despite the absence of necessary documents as required by prevailing immigration rules and regulations in exchange for “pastillas” money. (PNA)