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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) uncovered another scam in the Bureau of Immigration (BI), this time involving blacklisted foreigners, who fly in and out the Philippines after paying a hefty fee.
“May info kami na sa blacklisted persons na nakaka-travel out or in. P150,000 na ang presyo ng isang escort service sa blacklisted persons (We received information that blacklisted persons can travel in and out of the Philippines. The cost escort service of blacklisted persons was P150,000),” Remulla, whose agency oversees the BI, said during a press briefing on Thursday, October 12.
Remulla said that the “syndicate” inside the BI seemed to have resurrected, describing it as like “pastillas scam” all over again. Investigations revealed in 2020 that Chinese employees of Philippine offshore gaming operators allegedly entered the country with ease for a fee of P10,000 per person. The scheme was dubbed pastillas because the alleged payouts were rolled in paper.
During the Thursday briefing, the DOJ chief said that they were investigating the latest scheme. One possible action would be the personnel movement within the Bureau of Immigration, Remulla said. He added that the alleged corruption in the BI was not an “overnight problem,” noting the cultural perception of Filipinos on the immigration bureau.
“Culturally, when people apply for immigration or customs, alam natin ano gusto eh. And it’s not very flattering to say dahil may mga nag-apply para pumasok ng customs o immigration, gusto lang magkapera kasi alam ng mga tao na maraming pagkakataong magkapera kahit iligal,” Remulla said.
(Culturally, when people apply for immigration or customs, we know what they want. And it’s not very flattering to say because there are people who apply to enter customs or immigration, who only want to money because they know there are many ways to earn money through illegal means.)
Just this week, the DOJ also revealed another scam in the immigration sector. The justice department said some foreigners in the Philippines fabricated cases against themselves to avoid deportation. Philippine immigration rules ban the deportation of foreigners who have pending cases.
Earlier, the BI also reported several interceptions of trafficking suspects and victims.
On October 6, BI authorities intercepted four illegal recruitment victims and their two couriers who attempted to leave the country while disguised as tourists at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3. The victims were supposed to fly to the United Arab Emirates, were they would allegedly work as undocumented workers.
The BI, on Thursday, also said they intercepted 17 victims of trafficking heading to Hong Kong. Authorities were able to confirm that the victims did not know each other, and their documents were only handed to them by an agency who told them to pose as workmates. – Rappler.com