“Deport these criminals. Filipinos’ safety comes first.”
This was the remark of Sen. Risa Hontiveros in her bid to call on the government to trace all criminal elements and blacklisted fugitives who have entered the country due to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators industry or POGO.
Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate Committee on Women, previously alleged that tour operators have been offering manufactured Philippine birth certificates and passports to Chinese nationals. These tour operators are part of the Bureau of Immigration’s [BI] ‘pastillas’ scam, the Senator noted.
“Napag-alaman natin na parte din ng ‘pastillas’ scam ang VIP treatment of blacklisted fugitives. These criminals pay more than the P10,000 ‘service fee’ and are allowed entry into the Philippines,” she shared.
“Klarong klaro na napakarami nang kriminal na nakapasok sa bansa ngayon, no thanks to our corrupt BI officials. They welcomed these criminals with open arms and set up and enabled this ‘pastillas’ system to persist.”
Additionally, Hontiveros cited reports on the money laundering links to the POGO industry. The Bureau of Customs stated that $447 million (P22.68 billion) entered the country from September 2019 to February 2020, half of which was attributed to Chinese nationals.
“POGO is a big mess,” she said. “Ilang beses ko na sinabi ito, pero kailangan ulitin: POGO brings in crimes. Hulihin na ang mga blacklisted, ang mga sangkot sa money laundering, at anumang krimen. They need to be deported immediately!” she concluded.