Press Release
October 28, 2020

Statement of Senator Risa Hontiveros on the Suspension of BI officials

The six-month preventive suspension without pay imposed on 44 Bureau of Immigration (BI) personnel and officials involved in the pastillas scam is a welcome and necessary development in our Senate investigation.

Having led the pastillas scam inquiry for almost 10 months now, I am gratified to see that the sacrifices of our whistleblowers, the fruits of our labor, and the diligence of our law enforcers can bring erring officials to justice.

However, whistleblower Jeffrey Dale Ignacio, who turned state witness by testifying how BI officials institutionalized corruption in the agency, has been included in this suspension. I hope the Ombudsman can consider reversing this order against Dale as his testimony, which completed the picture of the corrupt system in the BI, has been invaluable in our Senate probe as well as the NBI's own investigation.

Nonetheless, I would like to thank Ombudsman Samuel Martires for acting on the results of our investigation, and I trust that his office will also go after the big fish — including those who are no longer in the BI and cannot be the subject of preventive suspension.

I would also like to applaud the NBI for remaining steadfast in their resolve to charge anyone — even one of their own, such as Atty. Joshua Capiral — found to have been part of this money-making racket, one that only endangered our borders and brought harm to our women and children. I am positive that with the bureau's dedication, more corrupt BI officials will be held to account.

I trust that both the NBI and the Ombudsman are as devoted to these cases as we are in my Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality. Together, let us show that justice in this country can indeed be served.

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