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Immigration chief given chance to fix mess — Panelo

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Salvador S. Panelo
PHILSTAR

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte is giving his Immigration commissioner a chance to fix corruption at the agency after the Senate uncovered a bribery scheme involving Chinese nationals working at local offshore gaming companies.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente attended the Cabinet meeting on Monday night and introduced an executive order to address the anomaly, presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said at a briefing on Tuesday.

“He’s giving Commissioner Morente a chance to do something about the problem in Immigration,” he said, referring to Mr. Duterte. He added that the President trusts the Immigration chief.

The Immigration bureau earlier said it had revamped workers at Terminals 1 to 3 of the international airport in Manila after the “recent resurgence of unauthorized activities and irregularities” there.

The agency relieved 19 officials and employees allegedly involved in a bribery scheme that allowed the illegal entry of Chinese nationals who end up working in offshore gaming companies here.

Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel earlier showed a video of incoming Chinese nationals being escorted to an office at the international airport in Manila.

She also showed screenshots of Viber messages among Immigration officers discussing the bribery scheme, as well as a worksheet containing the P10,000 paid by each of the tourists.

An immigration officer earlier told a Senate committee some blacklisted foreigners had been granted entry for as much as P200,000.

The bureau earlier asked the Justice department and National Bureau of Investigation to probe corrupt practices at the airport, including human trafficking and escort services.

Immigration officials have denied knowledge of the illegal scheme.

Also yesterday, the bureau said it had barred 242 foreign nationals alleged to be working illegally in the country from Feb. 21 to 28.

In a statement, the agency said some of the foreigners who had been denied entry at the international airport in Manila were Cambodians, Vietnamese, Indonesians, Myanmars, Malaysians and Chinese. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and GMC





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