Hontiveros on dropping charges vs ‘pastillas’ whistleblower: Thank you, Sandiganbayan

Photo courtesy of Senate PRIB

September 10, 2022

Sen. Risa Hontiveros on 10 September commended the decision of the Sandiganbayan to drop criminal charges against Jeffrey Dale Ignacio, a self-confessed member of the “pastillas” group in the Bureau of Immigration who later turned whistleblower, to admit him as a state witness against high-ranking officials involved in criminal activity.

“I thank the anti-graft court for heeding our previous calls to consider Jeffrey’s cooperation with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality — which I lead as chairperson — during our probe on the ‘pastillas’ scam in the Bureau of Immigration,” Hontiveros said.

The Sandiganbayan on 9 September disclosed at least 50 former BI officials and employees have pleaded not guilty to graft charges in connection with the “pastillas” scam.

Ignacio’s detailed testimony, according to Hontiveros, has helped shine a light on the almost-institutionalized corruption in the BI, and helped identify some of the ‘big cats’ involved in the multibillion peso racket.

The lawmaker expressed hope Ignacio’s testimony would boost the prosecution of the erring officials and employees.

She pointed out the accused officials facilitated the illegal entry of Chinese nationals and the trafficking of Filipino women and children.

Pastillas was the name of a scheme that allowed the entry of Chinese citizens into the country in exchange for money hidden inside a rolled-up piece of paper.

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