Press Release
October 6, 2020

Hontiveros whistleblower pins down ex-BI ports chief Red Mariñas as 'pastillas' scam mastermind

Another whistleblower surfaces to expose what Senator Risa Hontiveros calls a "festering pool of corruption" within the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

"Marami na ang nagsasalita at nagsasabi ng totoo. Akala ng mga mastermind ng pastillas, mga foot soldiers lang nila ang mahuhuli kasi iyon lang ang personal knowledge ng una naming whistleblower na si Alex Chiong. At nagsalita na din ngayon si Dale Ignacio na magpapatunay sa mga pasimuno ng korapsyon sa BI," the senator said.

Jeffrey Dale Ignacio, an Immigration Officer 2 at the BI came forward at the latest hearing of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality aiming to shed light on the so-called 'pastillas' scam, a centralized scheme where Chinese nationals were allowed seamless entry into the country for a 'service fee' of P10,000 per individual.

Ignacio is one of the 19 BI officials charged on Sept. 2, 2020 by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) with graft over the 'pastillas' modus. In the hearing, he identified former deputy commissioner Marc Red Mariñas as one of the masterminds of the 'pastillas' scam. The whistleblower also revealed that during one of the meetings he attended with other BI officials subpoenaed by the NBI, Mariñas said "may contact sila sa Ombudsman," implying that they may be able to get away with their crime.

"Sino ang contact ni Mariñas sa Ombudsman? Pati ba Ombudsman ay sangkot narin sa korapsyon? This revelation is worrying and the NBI should look into this immediately," the senator said.

Ignacio also shared screenshots of text messages, including one from another immigration officer, Fahad Calaca, who said that 'sir Red [Mariñas]' would help come up with the P100,000 bribe needed to pay an NBI insider who could supposedly clear Ignacio and others of charges.

"During our last hearing, we did confirm that NBI's legal assistance chief, Atty. Joshua Paul Capiral, was caught accepting bribes to exclude certain BI officials from being prosecuted," Hontiveros said.

The senator added that Ignacio's testimony not only identified the masterminds behind the 'pastillas' operations, the fresh statement also showed how Mariñas and his team tried to "obstruct justice and thwart accountability before this committee and before the court of law."

"Wala nang lusot ang mga mastermind ng korapsyon sa BI. This corruption left our borders unchecked, which led to Chinese criminals easily setting foot in our country and abusing our women and children," said Hontiveros, who has been leading the Senate inquiry into the rise of Chinese nationals working for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) and its link to prostitution and trafficking in the country.

"Sabi ng NBI, the investigations will still continue. Marami-rami pa ang mahuhuling mga korap. New sources are revealing new information. The walls are closing in on all these corrupt officials. The truth will eventually come out. It's not a matter of if, but when," the senator concluded.

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