Bureau of Immigration officials deny allegations on ‘pastillas scheme’

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Immigration officials  tagged in the P10-billion “pastillas scheme,” that allows Chinese nationals, including fugitives, to enter the country,  has denied all the allegations  hurled against them by their accuser during a face off in a Senate hearing on Monday.  

Former Immigration Ports Operation Division (POD) chief Marc Red  Mariñas who testified for the first time in the Senate hearing on the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) operations in the Philippines, strongly denied  the allegations by whistleblower Immigration  officer I Allison Ching that he is the leader of the pastillas  scheme racket.  

Mariñas described  as twisted and tainted with malice the  video to supposedly expose the pastillas scheme presented before the hearing of the Senate committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality chaired by Senator Risa Hontiveros.    

Mariñas insisted that the normal procedure was shown in the video and there’s nothing wrong in it.

“An ordinary, innocent standard procedure in the course of primary inspection of arriving passengers was twisted to suit his intention of passing it to the committee as evidence of corruption,” Mariñas said  during  the Senate hearing.

However, newly designated POD chief Grifton Medina contradicted the statement of  Mariñas, saying that frontliners are not allowed to use cellphones.

He emphasized there were something  wrong in the procedure since they initiated several reforms when he assumed his post. He said the NBI also conducted a probe into the alleged corruption in the said department.

Mariñas denied he knew of the easy entry of Chinese nationals arriving in the country to work for POGO in exchange for grease money.

“Tama na ang palusot niyo.  Stop the excuses,” Hontiveros said.

Even the BI officers linked to the pastillas scheme denied  the existence of pastillas scheme and  their involvement.

Hontiveros said she will recommend a lifestyle  check on those being tagged in the pastilles scam.

It  came  out in the hearing that Mariñas allegedly received P24,000 a month before resigning from the BI to run for mayor in Muntinlupa  City.

Mariñas also failed to file his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN)  in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018.  

Hontiveros also discovered that the networth of former Immigration  Security Guard Fidel Mendoza was P7.8 million. He was a former assistant of  Mariñas who was given an immigration rank.

It was also revealed in the hearing that  when  Mariñas was POD head, his father, Maynard  Marinas was head of the special operations communications unit.  His father was appointed by former Justice Secretary Vitalliano Aguirre./Stacy Ang 

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