WE can almost hear some people say “deja vu” as President Duterte handed each and every one of some 40 personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) — mostly assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport — small pieces of rolled white paper, his own version of the “pastillas.”
We say “deja vu” because it was another mayor — Alfredo S. Lim — who elevated shaming to the level of official policy during his time as mayor of Manila. Lim personally painted the doors and walls of homes of suspected drug pushers, believing as he did that this will dissuade them from further involvement in the drug trade. It is unclear if this dubious activity improved the fight against drugs, but reality tells us that the drug problem is still very much present in Manila.
‘As in the Lim experiment, we doubt it if this exercise will produce any result, aside from ridicule coming from the public and the suspects’ colleagues in the government.’
The state keepers of our borders had been summoned to Malacañang for a dressing down, specifically for involvement in a racket that lines their pockets with millions of pesos, considering that it must have been going on for a long time until it was uncovered in a Senate investigation. They were herded there by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who perhaps did not know that his men would be shamed by the President.
Under the “pastillas” racket, money wrapped in white paper resembling the favorite local sweet is handed to BI personnel at the airport in exchange for facilitating the entry of foreigners, many of them Chinese who will work in POGO establishments in Metro Manila. Recently, the National Bureau of Investigation filed two sets of complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman against BI personnel who were tagged in the racket based on the initial investigation of the agency.
The justice secretary was told by the President that money had been rolled inside each pastillas, which Duterte gave to each employee instructing them to eat it or “give it to the first beggar you see.”
As expected, no one among the Immigration personnel in that meeting dared to utter a word, said Guevarra. Also present at the meeting were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, and NBI officer-in-charge Eric Distor.
This unpresidential act of public shaming has been a hallmark of the Duterte administration. The President also did this recently with scalawags of the Philippine National Police, particularly those involved in illegal drugs. As in the Lim experiment, we doubt it if this exercise will produce any result, aside from ridicule coming from the public and the suspects’ colleagues in the government.
All told, the Pastillas 40 will just have to face the graft cases filed in court against them.