CAMPAIGN VS. CORRUPTION. With the administration’s relentless fight against corruption and strong commitment to a clean governance, no less than President Rodrigo Duterte summoned and met with officials and personnel of the Bureau of Immigration allegedly involved in the ‘pastillas’ controversy at the Malacañang Palace on Monday night (Nov. 9, 2020). The immigration officials and personnel received a dressing down from the President. (Presidential photo by Alfred Frias)
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte’s distributing pastillas with rolled up money to 40 suspended immigration officials is “symbolic” of his anger versus corruption, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra bared that Duterte summoned erring immigration officials allegedly involved in the so-called “pastillas” bribery scheme and gave them a dressing down in Malacañang on Monday night.
He said Duterte reportedly asked them to eat the pastillas, “but did not insist out of deference to the Secretary of Justice who was also present”.
“Nagbigay po ng pangaral ang Presidente na talagang dapat matigil ang korupsyon na ito at yung kaniyang pagbibigay naman ng pastillas, that’s also symbolic of his anger against corruption pero kagaya ng aking sinabi hindi naman po niya pinilit (The President gave a sermon that this corruption should really stop and his giving pastillas, that’s also symbolic of his anger against corruption but as I said he did not force them),” he said in a Palace press briefing.
Roque said none of the 40 suspended immigration officials dared to speak while they were being reprimanded by the President.
“I think the message has been received kasi (because) not a single person, out of the 40 individuals there, uttered a single word,” he added.
He said the giving out of pastillas was simply not “for show”, adding the President was really determined to spend the last two years of his term fighting corruption.
“The President is sending a message, ‘Itigil ang korupsyon. At nung ginawa po niya I think lahat po ng taong gobyerno narinig po ang mensahe (The President is sending a message ‘Stop corruption’. And when he did that, I think all the people in the government heard the message),” he said.
Asked how much amount was rolled in the pastillas, Roque said he never got to find out since none of the erring immigration officials opened them.
“Hindi na po nalaman kung magkano kasi wala naman dun sa kuwarentang nagbukas ng pastillas. Hinawakan lang nilang lahat (We never found out because none of the 40 officials opened the pastillas. They were just holding it),” he said.
He noted the President was “calm” while reprimanding the erring immigration officials since he just finished administering the oath of House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
Roque said that because of the separation of powers of the executive and judicial branch of government, the most that Duterte can impose by way of penalty is to remove them from service.
He also said that despite massive corruption within the bureau, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente still “serves at the pleasure of the President”.
“All presidential appointees serve at the pleasure of the President. Pag wala na pong tiwala, hindi na po sila maninilbihan (If he no longer trusts them, they will no longer serve),” he said.
The “pastillas” bribery scam refers to the operation at the airport wherein grease money was rolled up in paper, like the wrapper of milk candy.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires ordered the suspension of over 40 immigration officials following a BI report that there were discrepancies in their statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN), and their salaries.
The order imposed suspension on the 44 BI personnel, namely: Erwin Ortañez; Grifton Medina; Glenn Comia; Benlado Guevarra; Danieve Binsol; Deon Albao; Arlan Edward Mendoza; Anthony Lopez; Cecille Jonathan Orozco; Dennis Robles; Bradford Allen; Vincent Bryan Allas; Rodolfo Magbuhos Jr.; Er German Robin; Gabriel Estacio; Ralph Ryan Garcia; Phol Villanueva; Abdul Fahad Calaca; Danilo Deudor; Mark Macababad; Aurelio Lucero; George Bituin; Salahudin Hadjinoor; Cherry Pie Ricolcol; Chevy Chase Naniong; Carl Jordan Perez; Abdulhafez Hadji Basher; Jeffrey Dale Ignacio; Juan Carlo Gomez;
Clint John Simene; Jhayson Albelda; Asliyah Maruhom; Jan Christian De Villa; Jessica Anne Salvador; Jennifer Timbreza; Robern Michael Sarmiento; Maria Victoria Jogno; Catherine Mendoza; Lorenz Arlei Bontia; Paul Borja; Hamza Pacasum; Manuel Sarmiento; Fidel Mendoza; and Dimple Mahyumi Mallari. (PNA)