Sweeter than 'pastillas:' Scheme also lets Chinese fugitives enter PH for ₱50,000

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An immigration officer who exposed the 'pastillas' scheme says there's a sweeter deal offered to Chinese fugitives, which lets them enter and leave the Philippines with ease despite getting blacklisted by authorities.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 20) — The immigration officer who exposed the "pastillas" scheme in the Manila airport said there's an even sweeter deal offered to Chinese fugitives which allows them to enter and leave the Philippines despite getting blacklisted.

Immigration Officer I Allison Chiong appeared before the Senate on Thursday to expose supposed corrupt practices in the bureau, attesting to his tip to Senator Risa Hontiveros regarding the ploy where Chinese nationals pay ₱10,000 for VIP treatment in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Senator Imee Marcos asked the whistleblower whether the bureau had a hand in the spike in the entry of Chinese fugitives to Manila last year. Immigration data show that 324 of the 423 international criminals apprehended in local ports were Chinese nationals.

Chiong said those who were blacklisted or had criminal records are allowed to freely enter the country under a "special arrangement" which is at least five times worth the grease money from the "pastillas" scheme.

"From what I have heard, it ranges about ₱50,000 to ₱200,000 per daan (passage). Kapag high profile, milyon-milyon po 'yun," Chiong told the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.

He clarified that he did not receive any kickback from this "VVIP" deal. Instead, he pointed to a colleague named Den Binsol, assisted by his staff in the Travel Control Enforcement Unit (TCEU), as those behind this arrangement.

Chiong said Binsol's staff would stand behind an immigration officer's counter at the airport holding a picture and name. Once that client is there, the Chinese fugitive would be ushered through the immigration gates without having their passports scanned A deal can be arranged for the same ease during departure, he added.

Aside from Binsol, Chiong identified in his affidavit other TCEU chiefs who also participated in the scheme namely: Bien Guevarra and Glen Comia.

Further, the three TCEU chiefs still maintain the operations of their syndicate groups despite not working anymore in the bureau.

RELATED: Duterte still trusts immigration chief amid ‘pastillas scheme’ scandal – Palace

The revelation came days after Hontiveros exposed the "pastillas" scheme which she said is worth about ₱1 billion, computed from about 2,000 Chinese citizens entering the Philippines per day. Six people from the bureau would share the ₱2,000 kickback from the ₱10,000 grease money. The cash used to be hidden in rolled bond paper like the wrapping for the milk candy, but has since been upgraded to pay envelopes for the release of kickbacks.

President Rodrigo Duterte has relieved all Immigration officials and employees linked to this scam, his spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced on Thursday.