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Robredo calls for swift gov't action vs 'pastillas scheme'

Robredo calls for swift gov't action vs 'pastillas scheme'

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday called on the government to swiftly act on the so-called pastillas scheme, wherein corrupt airport and immigration personnel receive kickbacks in exchange for the seamless entry of Chinese nationals.

“I hope there will be action on this as soon as possible,” Robredo said in Filipino in an interview.

During a Senate inquiry on crimes involving Philippine overseas gaming operators (Pogo) on Monday, opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros exposed the pastillas scheme, which she said could very well involve sums reaching up to a total of P1 billion.

Robredo pointed out that concerns were repeatedly raised before against the influx of Chinese workers in the country.

“Several years ago, we were already calling the attention of the government on this influx of many Pogo workers here,” she said.

“We were telling them to focus on it. We were saying that it would be a source of much discomfort for us, because we do not really know the nature of their entry, how they enter. Were they wresting jobs away from Filipinos? Why were those illegal aliens allowed here? They may be a source of criminality,” she added.

Robredo also thanked Hontiveros and the witnesses for exposing the supposed kickback scheme.

Under the pastillas scheme, an arriving Chinese national would reportedly shell out a service fee of P10,000, of which P2,000 will be divided among officials of the BI’s Travel Control and Enforcement Unit, duty Immigration supervisor, and terminal heads.

The rest of the amount will be given to tour operators and syndicates who will transport the Chinese nationals from the airport to Pogo facilities.

The scheme was called pastillas supposedly because the bribe the money would be rolled in a bond paper like the wrapping of the Filipino milk candy.

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