MANILA, Philippines – A "classic corrupt move" is all that Senator Risa Hontiveros could say, referring to a Bureau of Immigration security guard, who has a net worth of P7.8 million, and an immigration officer, who earned around P24,000 but still managed to mount a mayoral campaign.
On Monday, March 2, the Senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality which Hontiveros chairs, continued its hearing on the alleged moneymaking scheme at the BI involving bribery from Chinese workers from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).
Former BI deputy commissioner Marc Red Mariñas left the BI in 2018 to run for Muntinlupa mayor during the 2019 elections, but lost. Hontiveros asked Mariñas how much he spent for his campaign and how much he earned when he was at the BI.
While Mariñas said he could not remember how much he spent for his campaign for mayor, he said he earned P24,000 a month as Immigration Officer II, in addition to the augmentation pay given to them.
"At the time I left, I had the item of Immigration Officer II which has a Salary Grade, of I think, 13. Just one step ahead of Immigration Officer I," Mariñas said. (LOOK: How syndicates, airport officials split P10,000 bribe from POGO workers)
According to his lone SALN filed in recent years, Mariñas had a net worth of around P5 million in 2017.
Based on the Salary Standardization Law, an immigration officer II was paid each month at least P22,328 in 2016; P23,257 in 2017; and P24,224 in 2018.
Mendoza, Mariñas' "staff assistant" who holds the post of Security Guard II, is on Salary Grade 5 which earned at least P12,488 a month in 2016; P12,975 in 2017; P13,481 in 2018; and P14,007 in 2019. This is aside from the augmentation pay of BI personnel, which, he said, was around P20,000 a month.
"Hindi ko masasabing kanang-kamay ako [ni Mariñas] pero malaki po siguro ang tiwala n'ya sa 'kin kaya palagi n'ya akong sinasama sa mga meetings n'ya," Mendoza said.
(I can't say I am the right-hand of Mariñas but maybe he trusts me that's why he always brings me to his meetings.)
Hontiveros said Mendoza had a net worth of at least P7 million in 2017. But Mendoza attributed his high net worth to him being a seaman in Japan for 4 years before joining BI. In addition, he also has a construction business on the side.
"Kung kailan na acting [port operations division chief], P5.5 million [si Mariñas]. Si Mr Mendoza na security guard ay nakapag-file ng P7 million. Isa na namang misteryo. Mas mataas pa ang nai-file ng security guard, mas mataas pa sa opisyal," Hontiveros said.
(When Mariñas was acting POD chief, his net worth was P5.5 million. Mr Mendoza, meanwhile, who is a security guard, was able to file P7 million. This is a mystery. A security guard recorded a higher net worth than the official.)
"P24,000 monthly, nakakatakbong mayor? Staff assistant, may net worth na P7 million? Hindi na po ito bago, classic corrupt moves ito," Hontiveros said.
(Somebody who earns P24,000 monthly is able to run for mayor? A staff assistant has a net worth of P7 million? This is no longer new. This is a classic corrupt move.)
In the previous hearing, Chiong named Mariñas as the lead operator of the pastillas scheme when the latter was the acting port operations chief.
Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler
Mariñas confirmed on Monday that he recommended to ex-justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III the appointment of Glenn Comia, Bien Guevarra, and Den Binsol as travel control enforcement unit (TCEU) heads for NAIA terminals.
The 3 former TCEU heads were sacked in 2019, after the Department of Justice ordered an investigation into the irregularities at the BI. Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Villar on Tuesday said that the investigation is still ongoing. (READ: Immigration officials 'deny to death' participation in pastillas scheme)
Comia said that he was on floating status after his sacking in mid-2019, but was subsequently moved to BI's anti-terrorism group. Guevarra, meanwhile, was moved to the seaport division and Binsol was moved to the administration division.
Mendoza was also placed at the administration division.
Special envoy for public diplomacy to China Ramon Tulfo, who still runs his own radio program, tagged Aguirre as the protector of Mariñas – the son of Maynardo Mariñas who served as port operations chief in the past.
In a Facebook post, Tulfo said that the younger Mariñas is the "syndicate heir," the older Mariñas the "syndicate godfather," and Aguirre the "protector."
Hontiveros said that there will still be another hearing early next week, to allow Aguirre to answer allegations that he was a "protector" of the BI syndicate. (READ: ‘Pastillas’ scheme top gun appointed by former justice secretary Aguirre – Morente)
In a statement, Aguirre downplayed Tulfo's claims, saying that he had filed cyberlibel cases against the columnist in the past.
"For repeating these falsities, I will write the Senate committee of Senator Hontiveros to invite me and Tulfo if there is any future hearing so I could refute them and tell Tulfo to his face that he is liar. I will again file new cases against Tulfo," Aguirre said.
"Kahit saan (Anywhere), I could face anybody for I am completely innocent of his charges. He wanted to get back at me," added Aguirre, referring to the case filed against Tulfo by the Iglesia ni Cristo. – Rappler.com