At least seven dozen personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) were slapped with graft charges before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the multi-billion ‘pastillas’ bribery scam unearthed in the Philippine Senate.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, who heads the Senate committee on women and children, said the pastillas modus is actually a huge racket in the BI which has generated some P40 billion in kickbacks since it was established in 2017. She said some 4 million persons has already been trafficked at the NAIA,
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is reportedly charging concerned BI officers allegedly involved in the scam based on the testimonies of whistleblowers Allison Chiong and Jeffrey Dale Ignacio which were culled during the ongoing public hearings conducted by Hostiveros and colleague Ilocos Norte Senator Imee Marcos.
According to a recent report in the Philippine Star, those BI officials charged anew were: POD acting chief Grifton Medina, NAIA Terminal 1 Traffic Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) deputy terminal head Dean Albao, NAIA immigration supervisor Abdulhafez Hadjibasher, senior BI officer Er German Robin and security guard Fidel Mendoza.
Also charged were BI officers Gabriel Estacio, Ralph Garcia, Phol Villanueva, Abdul Calaca, Danilo Deudor, Mark Macababad, Aurelio Lucero III, George Bituin, Salahudin Hadjinoor, Chevy Naniong, Hamza Pacasum, Manuel Sarmiento III and Cherry Pie Ricolcol.
The other respondents in the second graft complaint were Mariñas, NAIA Terminal 2 TCEU heads Benlando Guevara and Arlan Mendoza, Terminal 1 TCEU head Glennford Comia, Terminal 3 TCEU chiefs Anthony Lopez and Danieve Binsol, Border Control and Intelligence Unit overall head Erwin Ortañez, senior BI officer Cecille Orozco and 60 other immigration personnel.
Earlier, in a previous story appearing in Republika, the Ombudsman ordered six-month suspensions for 44 BI men allegedly part of the pastillas scam: Erwin Ortañez, Grifton Medina, Glenn Comia, Benlado Guevarra, Danieve Binsol, Deon Albao, Arlan Edward Mendoza, Anthony Lopez, Cecille Jonathan Orozco, Dennis Robles, Bradford Allen So, Vincent Bryan Allas, Rodolfo Magbuhos Jr., Er German Robin, Gabriel Estacio, Ralph Ryan Garcia, Phol Villanueva, Abdul Fahad Calaca, Danilo Deudor, Mark Macababad, Aurelio Lucero, George Bituin, Salahudin Hadjinoor, Cherry Pie Ricolcol, Chevy Chase Naniong, Carl Jordan Perez, Abdulhafez Hadji Basher, Jeffrey Dale Ignacio, Juan Carlo Gomez, Clint John Simene, Jhayson Albelda, Asliyah Maruhom, Jan Christian De Villa, Jessica Anne Salvador, Jennifer Timbreza, Robern Michael Sarmiento, Maria Victoria Jogno, Catherine Mendoza, Lorenz Arlei Bontia, Paul Borja, Hamza Pacasum, Manuel Sarmiento, Fidel Mendoza, Dimple Mahyumi Mallari.
BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval confirmed to the media that said immigration officers have been placed on floating status pending the resolution of their cases.
JAMES DE JESUS