February 21 ------ The Immigration officer who blew the whistle on the “pastillas” scheme that allows the entry of Chinese nationals into the Philippines for a fee also bared on Thursday that rates are higher for fugitives seeking to enter the country. Immigration Officer 1 Allison Chiong said in a Senate hearing that the “special arrangement” for Chinese fugitives can cost from P50,000 to P200,000 and could even reach millions of pesos for “high profile” criminals.
“Pagka gano’n, passing through na lang ‘yun. As in hindi i-i-scan ang passport, dadaan lang ‘yun. Package pa ‘yun, pati sa departure, gano’n din,” he said. Chiong confirmed that the rate depends on the fugitive’s record after Senator Imee Marcos noted that the number of Chinese fugitives who entered the Philippines jumped to 733 in 2019 from the previous average of 100 in prior years. “‘Yung mga blacklisted, they can freely enter our country… Iba po ang rate niyan, malaki na po ‘yan. Di ko po sure, pero from what I have heard, it ranges from around P50,000 to P200,000 per daan,” he said. “‘Pag mga high profile po, milyon-milyon po ‘yun.”
Last December, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said that 324 out of the 421 international criminals nabbed in 2019 were Chinese. Senator Risa Hontiveros bared on Monday the “pastillas” scheme that allows Chinese nationals to breeze through the Immigration process for a fee of P10,000. The so-called pastillas scheme, which is named after the Philippine dessert, entails hiding the money that is turned over in the transaction by rolling up the bills inside bond paper. Several immigration personnel were relieved of their duty following the revelation. On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte vouched for the integrity of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente amid the controversy.