House panel likely to suggest charges vs Faeldon, other ‘tara’ officials

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Philstar file photo of Bureau of Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon

MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on dangerous drugs is expected to recommend the filing of charges against resigned Customs commissioner Nicanor Faledon and other officials allegedly linked to the “tara” (bribery) system in the agency.

“I’m sure the members join me in the conclusion that there is really a systemic, endemic or whatever epidemic that is going on in the bureau. And this is the reason why smuggling of goods, including shabu (crystal meth), was possible,” Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers, who chairs the committee, said during a meeting of the panel this week.

The committee report on its inquiry into how the Bureau of Customs could have allowed the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China is being routed to members for signing and will be released next week.

Barbers said the House hearings have established the existence of the tara system. Customs broker Mark Taguba detailed the amounts distributed to each office to facilitate the quick release of cargo — including contraband — with payoffs as high as P27,000 per container.

The Surigao lawmaker said criminal and administrative liabilities might be recommended against some Customs officials. “Nakakatakot ito dahil 600 kilos (of shabu) lang itong nahuli (This is scary because only 600 kilos have been found),” he said.

He said they will likely ask the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate and charge Faeldon for violating Section 3 of the Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The committee will also be recommending the filing by the Department of Justice (DOJ) of falsification charges as defined and penalized under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code against Faeldon’s chief-of-staff Mandy Therese Anderson.

Anderson signed the Daily Time Records of professional basketball and volleyball players hired by the BOC and made it appear they reported for work as technical assistants and counter-intelligence analysts, when they were actually hired to play for the agency’s teams.

The committee will also recommend the filing of a complaint by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency against Dennis Siyhian and Catherine Nolasco, investigators of National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Organized Transnational Crime Division, who failed to turn over 500 kilos of shabu to the PDEA in violation of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002, on the “Custody and Disposition of Seized Dangerous Drugs, in relation to Section 32, RA 9165.”

Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu (2nd district, Batangas) moved that the name of deputy Customs commissioner Gerardo Gambala be deleted from the list of respondents in the absence of documents determining his liability.