Duterte vouches for BI’s Morente amid ‘pastillas scheme’ controversy

Marje Pelayo   •   February 21, 2020   •   461

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has nothing but good words for Immigration head Jaime Morente despite the recent corruption issues hounding the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

The agency has been in hot water following the expose of Senator Risa Hontiveros on the alleged bribery scheme dubbed as “pastillas” operations happening at Immigration counters involving frontline personnel receiving payouts from Chinese nationals in exchange for hassle-free entry to the Philippines.

These Chinese nationals, who enter as tourists, allegedly end up working for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO).

“Itong si Morente, mahal ko iyan, kasi chief of police iyan dito. Mabait iyan,” the President speaking highly of Morente during a police rite in Davao City.

The President said he ordered Morente to file appropriate charges against those involved in the scheme.

During a Senate hearing on Thursday (February 20), key witness Allison Chiong disclosed his full knowledge of the said illegal practice which happens to involve at least 90 percent of BI’s personnel.

Kung bibigyan ko kayo ng parang percentage, para po sa akin mga ten percent na lang ang hindi kasama sa modus (If you would ask me of a percentage, I would say only about 10 percent (of the employees) are not involved in the modus operandi),” he told senators.

Following the expose, President Duterte ordered the relief of several immigration officers proven to have participated in the ‘pastillas scheme.’ — MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

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PH Immigration arrests African woman with fake travel papers

Robie de Guzman   •   February 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday said its officers at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport arrested an African woman who attempted to leave the country for Canada using fake travel documents.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente identified the woman as 43-year old Djiowo Sandrine, an alleged citizen of Cameroon.

Morente said she was apprehended on Wednesday, February 26 at the airport’s immigration departure area when she attempted to board her flight to Taipei en route to her final destination in Vancouver, Canada.

According to a report from BI’s acting intelligence chief Fortunato Manahan Jr., the passenger was in possession of bogus Canadian electronic travel authorization (ETA) document which she allegedly intended to use to illegally enter Canada.

“She was also caught in possession of a fake US green card and a fraudulent passport, thus we suspect that she is an impostor,” Manahan said.

He added that the woman’s true nationality is still unknown as she presented a fraudulent Cameroonian passport.

Morente said the passenger will be deported and placed in immigration blacklist so she would be banned from re-entering the Philippines.

The suspect was subsequently flown to Manila and detained at the BI detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City pending deportation proceedings.

PH to deport alleged British pedophile

Robie de Guzman   •   February 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A British national found to be overstaying in the country and is wanted by authorities in his country is set to be deported, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said Thursday.

In a statement, Commissioner Jaime Morente said the Briton, identified as 58-year old Kevin Victor Ryder, is wanted in the United Kingdom (UK) for allegedly enticing a Filipino girl, a minor, to have sexual relations with him.

Ryder was arrested by operatives of the bureau’s fugitive search unit (FSU) in Angeles City, Pampanga last February 14.

Morente said Ryder is a registered sex offender in the UK as he was convicted in 2006 for child pornography, particularly making and possessing indecent images of children, and sentenced to 14 months in prison.

“We received a request for the UK authorities that he be arrested and deported due to reports that he was grooming a 12-year-old girl in the Philippines,” he said.

BI FSU chief Bobby Raquepo added that Ryder, who had been illegally staying in the Philippines for almost five years, was previously expelled from Thailand for committing sexual offenses against children there.

A check of the BI’s travel database showed that the British national last arrived as a tourist in the country in 2015 and he did not depart ever since.

“We will immediately deport him not only because he is an overstaying alien but because his continued presence here poses a serious threat to our Filipino children,” Morente said.

“He will be blacklisted after we deport him so he will be unable to return to the country.”

The suspect is currently detained at the BI detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City while awaiting deportation.

PH immigration arrests 2 Koreans in Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   December 5, 2019

(FILE) Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday reported it has arrested two Korean nationals in Mindanao for violating the country’s immigration laws.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the bureau’s intelligence division nabbed Shin Jaewon, 36, and Park Kwang Soo, 53, in separate operations conducted last week.

Morente said Shin, a fugitive who escaped from detention two years ago, was re-captured on Nov. 27 inside a hotel room in Cagayan de Oro.

The bureau said Shin is wanted in Korea for fraud since 2012, and has been on the bureau’s wanted list since he escaped their custody in 2017.

It was learned that a summary deportation order against Shin was already issued by the BI board of commissioners in 2016.

Shin is currently detained at an Immigration detention facility in Taguig pending clearances for his departure to Korea.

Meanwhile, Park, a tourist who overstayed in the country for 13 years, was apprehended on Nov. 28 in his residence in Davao City.

The bureau said Park’s arrest was prompted by an information on his whereabouts, and a mission order issued by Morente following a complaint against him for being an undesirable alien and anti-Filipino.

“Park was unable to show his passport and instead presented a fake Philippine postal ID when asked to produce his identification documents by the arresting agents,” the bureau added.

The two Korean nationals are set to be deported, and will be blacklisted and banned from re-entering the country.

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