AN immigration officer on Thursday claimed that some syndicates at the airport and Bureau of Immigration (BI) competed for “grease money” being offered by the Chinese for easy entry into the Philippines.
Immigration Officer 1 Allison Chiong, the alleged witness in the so-called “pastillas” operation at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) came out in the open and provided more details of the syndicates’ alleged illegal activities.
Asked to define the “pastillas” modus operandi, Chiong said, pastillas “is Chinese money given to immigration officers” rolled in white bond paper to facilitate the entry of Chinese tourists.
“As a frontline immigration officer, I have personally witnessed various illegal transactions over the years involving the extortion of money in exchange for unimpeded passage to the Philippines,” he said.
Chiong said news of the operation “spread fast.” He said other syndicates within the BI started submitting their own list of names of Chinese nationals. About 2,000 Chinese visitors have been arriving daily since 2017, he said.
He said these groups worked with travel agencies in China, which would submit the names of its visitors. “These syndicated groups would often compete with each other to gain favor from the Chinese travel agencies.”
“I noticed that Chinese nationals who fit the profile of an employee for a Philippins online [offshore] gambling [gaming] operator (POGO) company enter our country with a tourist visa applied for with the Philippine consulates,” Chiong said.
He said some BI officers were given a list of Chinese tourists who were to be allowed entry to the Philippines without going through the immigration process. These Chinese tourists were not required to undergo screening.
“The influence of these Chinese organizations and personalities became more apparent when they started providing immigration officers lunch meals, wrapped in Chinese newspapers. However, this recently stopped due to the travel ban on incoming Chinese nationals, due to be novel corona virus,” he said.
Chiong added, “Each cooperating immigration officer would receive around P20,000 weekly for [NAIA] 1 duties and P8,000 weekly for [NAIA] terminal 3 duties.” BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO