Your Premier Source for Comprehensive Philippines News and Insights! We bring you the latest news, stories, and updates on a wide range of topics, including politics, culture, economy, and more. Stay tuned to know everything you wish about your favorite stars 24/7.


  • Owner: SNOWLAND s.r.o.
  • Registration certificate 06691200
  • 16200, Na okraji 381/41, Veleslavín, 162 00 Praha 6
  • Czech Republic

EDITORIAL - Abusing visa powers

Will anomalies never end in the Bureau of Immigration? On Nov. 9, 2020 while the COVID pandemic was raging with no vaccine available, Rodrigo Duterte summoned over 40 BI employees to Malacañang to berate them over the so-called pastillas scam. This referred to the anomalous entry of foreigners mostly from China who ended up working in Philippine offshore gaming operator or POGO firms. The cash payments for facilitating the entry were reportedly handed over to BI personnel in rolled-up bundles resembling pastillas or local milk pastry.

Duterte did not carry out his threat to make the BI employees eat paper rolled up like pastillas, which supposedly contained cash. The BI employees were already suspended at the time over the scam. In June 2022, the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed 45 of them from the service.

You’d think BI personnel would have learned their lesson from that scandal. Yet here we are again, with the House of Representatives investigating reports that unscrupulous BI personnel are abusing for a fee the bureau’s authority to convert tourist visas into student visas.

The authority is given to the BI under Executive Order 285, issued in 2000 during the presidency of Joseph Estrada. EO 285 also created an inter-agency committee on foreign students, chaired by the Commission on Higher Education. The committee members are the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Education, National Bureau of Investigation and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.

With questions raised about a reported influx of Chinese students in Cagayan, a House committee has learned that in 2023, the BI granted student visas to 16,200 Chinese nationals. It’s unclear if most of the 16,200 initially entered the Philippines on tourist visas. But Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers is urging Malacañang to scrap EO 285, and to instead transfer to the DFA the authority to convert tourist visas to student visas.

Barbers has acknowledged that under normal circumstances, the influx of foreign students should not be a problem, but the country’s dispute with China over maritime issues as well as peace and order problems associated with POGOs give a national