The Grinch Who Stole Christmas – And Starbucks – in the Philippines

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If you think the TSA officials had it rough over Thanksgiving, think again.

The Philippine immigration chief (a.k.a. The Grinch) is prohibiting airport personnel in Manila from going out for Peppermint Mochas and greeting travelers with a ‘Merry Christmas!’

(See TIME’s photo-essay “Have a Very Ridiculous Christmas.”)

The new cheerless policies, which were reported by AFP yesterday, are the Philippine government’s latest attempts to curb corruption, according to immigration officials.

So how is Christmas even connected to corruption?

Apparently, holiday greetings from the folks at airport immigration can be misconstrued as veiled solicitations for gifts or tips. And, cafés like Starbucks, arguably the largest coffee chain in Metro Manila with at least 130 branches, are where ‘fixers’ who fast-track immigration papers go to negotiate their deals.

(See TIME’s photo-essay “Crazy Christmas Traditions.”)

“We are trying to improve our image because of the negative impression of corruption of the bureau,” immigration chief Felino Quirante explained.

While the spirit behind the new rules is commendable, NewsFeed wonders: How exactly does spoiling Christmas improve one’s image? (via AFP)