Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Aguirre tagged as 'protector' of 'pastillas' racket, denies accusations

Columnist Ramon Tulfo tagged former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II as the supposed protector of Immigration officials involved in the “pastillas” racket, an allegation the former DOJ chief denied.

 At the Senate inquiry into corruption at the Bureau of Immigration, Tulfo, citing information from whistleblower Allison Chiong, accused Aguirre of being the “protector of the syndicate” operating the “pastillas” scheme. “He castrated the powers of [Immigration] Commissioner [Jaime] Morente. The power to hire and fire and reassign Immigration personnel should be laid on the responsibility of Mr. Morente,” Tulfo said in a mix of English and Filipino.

He said that Aguirre removed the powers from the Immigration commissioner and “arrogated the power onto himself, the power to assign and reassign Immigration personnel.”

Tulfo also pointed out that it was Aguirre who appointed Maynard Mariñas as chief of Special Operations and Communications Unit and son, Marc Red Mariñas as then-Port Operations Division chief. Tulfo also accused the father-son tandem of riding a chopper to Mulanay, Quezon to hand over money to Aguirre, an allegation contained in his July 2019 column at the Manila Times.

Speaking to the Senate panel, the younger Mariñas denied the columnist’s accusations and said he only rode the chopper once, going to San Narciso, also in Quezon. He previously denied knowledge of the “pastillas” racket, which lets Chinese nationals have “seamless entry” into the country for a fee, but admitted to “irregularities” at the bureau.

Aguirre to sue Tulfo, again

Former Justice chief Aguirre vehemently denied Tulfo’s allegations and said he will file new cases against the columnist.

“The charges of Ramon Tulfo are absolute lies and a complete fabrications [sic] of Tulfo,” Aguirre told Philstar.com in a text message. Aguirre slapped Tulfo with several libel cases before the Manila Regional Trial Courts over allegations contained in the latter’s column.

“Anywhere, I could face anybody for I am completely innocent of his charges,” Aguirre also said.

He also said that he will write to Sen. Risa Hontiveros that he may be invited to attend the next Senate hearing “so I could refute them and tell Tulfo to his face that he is a liar.”

Hontiveros said that the panel will invite Aguirre in the next Senate hearing. Aguirre added: “He (Tulfo) wanted to get back at me because I did not grant his request to consolidate the more than 70 [Iglesia ni Cristo] cases in Manila because he was complaining of inconveniences and expense travelling throughout the country to answer the INC complaints.”

The former Justice chief did not expound on his accusation against Tulfo.
SOURCE: www.philstar.com