More than 40 Bureau of Immigration (BI) employees tagged in the so-called “pastillas” scam almost had a taste of their supposed wrongdoing when they met with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang Monday (November 9).
In a text message, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters that Duterte wanted to give the BI employees a “dressing down.”
“During the short meeting, he distributed pastillas to the BI personnel. Money had been rolled inside each pastillas, according to the President. He wanted them to eat the pastillas, but did not insist ‘out of deference to the Secretary of Justice who was also present,’” Guevarra recalled.
Quoting the President, Guevarra said the BI employees were told to either eat the pastillas or “give it to the first beggar you see.”
“In the end, he (Duterte) stated that the cases had been filed and that they simply had to face them,” the Justice Secretary added.
No one among the BI employees present at the meeting spoke, Guevarra said.
Also present during the meeting in Malacanang were Senator Bong Go, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, BI chief Jaime Morente and National Bureau of Investigation Officer-In-Charge Eric Distor.
Under the “pastillas” scheme, Chinese nationals allegedly pay BI officers at least P10,000 to enter the country as tourists despite lacking proper travel documents. The money is rolled in bond paper, like the sweet Filipino delicacy.
In October this year, Ombudsman Samuel Martires ordered 44 BI employees tagged in the scheme to be suspended for six months.
The National Bureau of Investigation has filed charges against 86 individuals allegedly involved in the scheme.