MANILA, Philippines – How much tara or grease money is being dispensed every time the Bureau of Customs (BOC) allows the easy release of an imported cargo from the country’s ports?
It is P40,000 per container, according to Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson’s computations, which he based on the information he received from individuals who personally know about the systemic corruption at the bureau.
The lawmaker conservatively placed the number of bribery-laden cargoes to 5,000 containers a day or half of BOC officials’ estimate of 10,000 containers that enter the country’s ports daily.
Thus, at P40,000 per container, the estimated grease money involved in corrupt BOC transactions is at least P200 million per day or P73 billion a year.
“Di hamak na mas malaki pa kaysa do’n sa na-mention ni Mark Taguba na P27,000 per container [This is much bigger than the P27,000 per container mentioned by Mark Taguba],” Lacson said on Sunday, referring to the customs broker involved in the smuggling into of 604 kilos of shabu from China last May.
Lacson, during an interview with dzMM radio, gave a glimpse of what he would discuss in his privilege speech Wednesday afternoon.
He said his speech would include a presentation on how “systemic corruption” works at the BOC and who and what offices within the bureau benefit from regular huge bribes.
According the senator, he and his staffers were able to get a bigger picture of how corruption is being carried out at the BOC through numerous interviews with both agency insiders and outsiders, who knew about the tara system at the bureau.
“Top officials, middle level officials, brokers, may NGO [there are also from non-government organizations]. Halo-halo, so taga loob, at taga labas [It’s a mixture of sources, so from those inside and outside the BOC],” said Lacson.
The senator said that through “vetting,” “filtering” and “comparing” the pieces of information he got from his sources, he was able to come up with the list of players, fixers, bagmen, middlemen, officials and personnel, and offices within the BOC allegedly benefitting from the tara.
“So ‘yon, gano’n nga ang ginawa naming vetting, kung ano ‘yong common names na lumalabas s’yempre at based na rin don sa ibang confirmatory o validating sources, binangga na rin namin do’n,” explained Lacson.
[So that’s how we conducted the vetting, based on the common names that crop up and on confirmatory or validating sources, we compared them.]
“So kami, malaki ang tiwala namin sa kredibilidad nitong listahan ng tara na nakuha namin na ilalahad namin bukas [So we have a big trust on the credibility of this tara list that we got and will be presented tomorrow],” he said.
Lacson said the Davao Group was also mentioned by his informants as among those allegedly involved in the corrupt activities at the BOC.
“May nabanggit din do’n. Ayon sa mga nagbigay ng information, meron ding nabanggit na Davao Group na kasali,” he said.