LOOK: How syndicates, airport officials split P10,000 bribe from POGO workers

Michelle Abad
In a modus called 'pastillas,' POGOs pay P10,000 per person and provide free lunch to get VIP treatment

BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION. Mr. Grifton Medina, Port Operations Division of the Bureau of Immigration, at the senate inquiry on the sex trafficking connected to POGO operations in the country, February 17, 2020. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros, citing evidence from an informant, revealed in a Senate hearing how airport officials split bribes from Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) who pay them to glide through immigration processes.

In a modus called pastillas,” where POGOs pay P10,000 per person and provide free lunch to get VIP treatment, P2,000 is split among airport immigration workers , while P8,000 is distributed among the operators and syndicates.

The P2,000 for immigration and airport workers is divided as follows:

  • Immigration officers (IO) get the highest cut at P650
  • Duty immigration supervisors (DIS) get P470
  • Travel central enforcement unit (TCEU) gets P280
  • Border control and intelligence unit (BCIU) gets P240
  • Operations (OPS), or administrative/clerical officers get P260
  • Terminal head (TH) gets P100

BREAKDOWN. A table from an informant shows how airport officials split a P2,000 bribe among them.


A Rappler source in the immigration bureau confirmed on Monday the breakdown and amounts provided by the senator. 

In a previous hearing in January, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) revealed that 1.8 million Chinese entered the country in recent years. Hontiveros said they could suppose that one million of them arrived through pastillas. Given this number of POGO workers paying a bribe of P10,000 each, then airport officials and syndicates would have earned at least P10 billion from bribery.

Grifton Medina of the BI port operations division said in the hearing that it was the first time for him to see this breakdown and that he was commissioned by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and BI Commissioner Jaime Morente to “instill change” at the airport to combat corruption.

Medina, deputy commissioner Tobias Javier, and even intelligence division chief Fortunato Manahan all said they were not aware of such bribery.

After the Monday hearing, the BI announced it would investigate the revelations of alleged corruption.

Hontiveros earlier suggested the suspension of POGO operations because they “attract criminals” into the country.

Hontiveros also found links between the influx of POGO workers and the rise of sex trafficking in Manila. – with a report from Ryan Macasero/Rappler.com

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.