Immigration 'syndicate' may have China roots: Justice chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2020 11:41 AM | Updated as of Feb 21 2020 12:07 PM

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MANILA — An alleged "syndicate" within the Immigration bureau might be "a bit difficult to break" due to its suspected ties with groups in China, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Friday. 

Chinese tour operators appear to be in cahoots with local immigration officers who were accused in a Senate probe of pocketing P10,000 for every Chinese national they allowed to enter the country as tourists and work later in gambling hubs, said Guevarra. 

"Mukhang ito'y isang malaking sindikato na maaaring hindi lang dito nagmumula sa ating premises, airport... kaya talagang medyo mahirap i-break itong sindikato na ito," he told DZMM. 

(This seems to be a big syndicate that could have originated not from premises, airport. This is why it's a bit difficult to break this syndicate.) 

It may take "a little while" before the National Bureau of Investigation could release a report on the "pastillas" bribery scam named for the rolls of grease money that resemble a sweet delicacy. 

Beijing is also giving local authorities information on alleged hundreds of Chinese fugitives who supposedly bribed their way into the Philippines, he said. 

The immigration bureau meanwhile often reshuffles its personnel, who might be more vulnerable to bribes pending the approval of a law that will raise their salary and modernize the agency, said Guevarra.