Ombudsman urged to reverse ruling vs. ‘Pastillas’ scheme whistleblower

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 28) — Senator Risa Hontiveros is urging the Office of the Ombudsman to reconsider its suspension order against the “Pastillas” scam whistleblower Jeffrey Dale Ignacio, saying he has been “invaluable” in the investigations on the bribery scheme.

She said in a statement Wednesday that Ignacio’s testimony “completed the picture of the corrupt system in the (Bureau of Immigration)." Hontiveros has been leading the legislative inquiry on the modus that allegedly allows Chinese nationals easy entry into the country in exchange for bribes earlier hidden in rolled bond paper, resembling the wrapping for the Pastillas milk candy.

Ignacio previously tagged former Immigration deputy commissioner Marc Red Mariñas as the “ring leader” of the scheme. Ignacio, an immigration officer, testified that he served as a “foot soldier” while his “bosses,” including Mariñas, got the lion’s share of the grease money. Mariñas repeatedly denied the allegations.

NBI earlier said Ignacio was helpful in entrapping Atty. Joshua Capiral, head of NBI’s legal assistance division, who was purportedly case-fixing for some of those linked to the pastillas scheme.

But Hontiveros welcomed the six-month preventive suspension without pay imposed on 43 other immigration personnel, noting that she was “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.” 

In February, Hontiveros exposed the money-making racket through the help of Allison Chiong, an immigration officer, and the first pastillas scam whistleblower. Chiong has claimed the kickbacks generated from the modus ranged from P10,000 to P200,000, but could go as high as millions of pesos when the transaction involved high-profile personalities.