Duterte relieves BI employees tagged in ‘pastillas scheme’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 20, 2020   •   814

President Rodrigo Duterte has relieved the officials and personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) who are linked to the ‘pastillas scheme’.

The so-called ‘pastillas’ bribery scheme provides ‘VIP treatment’ to Chinese nationals who will pay P10,000 to Immigration officials.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, charges are also expected to be filed against the involved personnel.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has relieved all officials and employees of the Bureau of Immigration who are involved in the latest bribery scheme where they purportedly facilitate the entry into—and exit from—Philippine territory of foreigners working for Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) for an unauthorized fee,” he said.

The Palace official did not mention the identities of the involved Immigration employees or how many were relieved from service.

“May nag-report, may nag-reklamo (Someone filed a report, complaint), and apparently the proof constitutes probable cause. That’s why they were sacked,” Panelo added.

Meanwhile, Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte still trusts BI Chief Jaime Morente. However, there will be a follow-up Cabinet meeting to discuss the present situation in the Immigration Bureau.

“The present situation in the Bureau of Immigration, as well as how it is being run by Commissioner Jaime Morente, will be taken up in the next Cabinet meeting,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte’s ‘shoot them dead’ order only aims to warn troublemakers —PNP

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 2, 2020

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday (April 2) said the ‘shoot them dead’ order of President Rodrigo Duterte was only a warning for lawless elements.

PNP Spokesperson PBGen. Bernard Banac said the PNP is not taking the order literally.

“Iyong pahayag ng Pangulo ay magsisilbing babala lalo na sa mga magtatangka na gumawa ng karahasan, tiyak na ang parusa ng batas ay ipapataw sa iyo (The President’s statement serves as a warning to those who will attempt to cause violence, you will certainly face punishment from the law),” he said.

Banac said law-abiding residents have nothing to worry about because the PNP is always ready to serve the people.

“Ang ating batas ay nariyan para sa kabutihan ng lahat. At sinoman na lalabag ay mananagot sa batas. Ang PNP naman ay tagapagpatupad. Wala naman po dapat ipangamba dahil ang PNP ay kakampi at maglilingkod sa inyo (Our law is here for the good of everyone. And anyone who will violate the law will be accountable. The PNP implements the law. There is no need to worry because the PNP is an ally and will serve you),” Banac said.-AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Japanese arrested for working in PH without permit

Robie de Guzman   •   March 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday said its operatives have apprehended a Japanese national in Davao City for working without proper permit and visa.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the Japanese man, identified as 45-year old Kiyoshi Yokoyama, was arrested last March 18 at an office in Davao City where he was allegedly employed as general manager.

Yokoyama was arrested after his staff complained of maltreatment.

According to BI intelligence chief Fortunato Manahan Jr., a female employee had complained that last January 3, Yokoyama threatened to physically harm her “in a fit of rage.”

The incident was reportedly witnessed by other employees.

“She said she felt very humiliated that all she could do was cry,” Manahan said.

He also stated that other than disclosing the Japanese national’s lack of work permit, the employees also demanded that Yokoyama be deported “for being anti-Filipino because of his oppressive and abusive conduct towards company employees.”

The bureau said that a check of Yokoyama’s travel history showed that he has been frequenting the country as a tourist since 2013 and that there is no record that he obtained or applied for a working visa with the BI.

A verification made with the Department of Labor and Employment office in Region 10 also showed that Yokoyama did not secure or apply for an alien employment permit.

“We cannot tolerate the continued stay of foreigners who blatantly violate our laws by working without permit and oppress Filipino workers,” Morente said.

Holders of temporary visitors visa may get ECCs at int’l airports —BI

Robie de Guzman   •   March 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Holders of temporary visitors visa who have stayed in the country for less than a year may temporarily get their Emigration Clearance Certificates (ECC) at any international airports in the country, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the measure follows the implementation of enhanced community quarantine in Luzon to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

An ECC is issued to temporary visitors who have stayed in the country for more than six months, and to holders of residence, work, or students visas who wish to leave the country for good.

Morente said the bureau has also suspended biometrics capturing and fingerprinting, and the issuance of Special Registration Numbers (SSRN) as requirements for the processing of ECCs to ensure compliance with physical distancing directives.

“The Bureau complied with the directive from Malacañang by continuing to operate with a skeletal workforce,” he said in a statement.

“We have put this temporary measure in place to prevent the influx of foreign nationals leaving the country who will be applying to process their ECCs, essentially minimizing physical contact with the traveling public,” he added.

Morente said they will still counter match the applications with their derogatory database to ensure that no foreigner with a pending case will be able to leave the country.

“We will still conduct derogatory records checking before giving clearance to ensure that any foreign national who wishes to leave the country has no pending obligation with the government,” he said.

The bureau earlier issued an advisory suspending several transactions in Luzon, including tourist visa extensions except for foreign nationals intending to depart the country.

In the said directive, aliens whose visas will expire during the enhanced community quarantine may file for extension after the quarantine period without penalty.

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