Travel agencies offer manufactured passports, birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, as well as provide ‘”pastillas” services to Chinese nationals entering the Philippines, according to Senator Risa Hontiveros.
She also said that the services are being advertised in Mandarin through the messaging app WeChat, primarily to cater to workers in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators or POGO industry.
“These are criminal acts. These are violations of our laws, and tour agencies are advertising them freely,” the senator remarked as she revealed screenshots of said WeChat messages during Monday’s Senate hearing on the link of the boom of POGO to prostitution dens in the country.
Tour operators allegedly receive a portion of the P8,000 from the P10,000 ‘service fee’ under the pastillas scam, wherein P2,000 goes to the Bureau of Immigration’s Immigration Officers, the Travel Control and Enforcement Unit, the Border Control and Intelligence Unit, the Terminal Heads, the Immigration Supervisors, and other airport personnel.
“Masyado naman atang useful ang Philippine passport sa mga Chinese nationals na mga tourist kuno. Pati nga ang term na ‘pastillas’ alam na rin nila, at ang kakapal ng mukha, inaadvertise pa,” she said.
“This information corroborates with reports that Chinese nationals are using the identities of dead Filipinos,” she said. “These Chinese nationals are even assisted by our own corrupt local registry officials”, she added.
Hontiveros said that travel agencies also offer to de-list from a blacklist and to release Chinese nationals from the airport should they be barred entry.
During the previous hearing, Hontiveros’ Senate Committee found that there were VVIPs (Very, Very Important Persons) who seamlessly enter the country for a heftier “service fee.”
“‘Yung mga VVIP daw na ito ay mga may criminal record sa China pero ‘pag nagbayad ng mas mahigit pa sa P10,000 na fee, nakakapasok pa rin sila. So no wonder na talamak ang sindikato dito sa bansa ngayon,” Hontiveros revealed.
“This is a clear threat to our national security and it puts the safety of our women, children, and the entire Filipino people in jeopardy,” she concluded. /Stacy Ang