MANLA, Philippines – Customs broker Mark Ruben Taguba, who handled the release of container with shabu out of the Bureau of Customs premises, gave a breakdown of the tara or grease money per container allegedly being received by some agency personnel and offices within the BOC to facilitate the easy release of shipments.
Taguba substantiated Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s earlier claim that with 10,000 containers going through the BOC daily, the payoffs could amount to as much as P270 million everyday.
But BOC officers present during Monday’s continuation of the inquiry by the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs into the smuggled P6.4 billion worth of shabu, vehemently denied Taguba’s allegations, including a Customs director who said that he was ready to quit his post.
Appearing during the hearing, Taguba identified some of the units within the BOC allegedly receiving payolas from importers. He also slowly walked towards the BOC officers present at the inquiry, announced their names, and linked them to the alleged corruption at the bureau.
Taguba said among the offices within the agency allegedly receiving payolas were the following:
-Intelligence Group (IG) – P2,000 per container
-Collector’s office – P3,000 per container
-Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) director – P500 per container
-Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) district director – P500 per container
-Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) director – P500 per container
-Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) district director – P500 per container
-Import Assessment Service (IAS) – P10,000 per container
-X-ray unit of the BOC – P1,000 per container
-Pier Inspection Division (PID) – P200 per container
-Formal Entry Division (FED) – P500 per container
-Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group (AOGC) – P1,000 per container
According to Taguba, he distributes the payolas to different persons in the bureau.
“May nagtetext sa akin, tatanungin niya kung kailan kami magkikita [There are people who send me text messages and ask me when we will meet],” he added.
He alleged that among the individuals who collect grease money are:
1. BOC deputy commissioner Teddy Raval, who is under Intelligence Group
2. BOC Intelligence officer Teodoro Sagaral, who is assigned at the Manila International Container Port
3. BOC district collector Vincent Maronilla, also assigned at the MICP
4. A certain Major Gutierrez, who is already deceased
5. BOC director Niel Estrella assigned at the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service
6. BOC director Milo Maestrecampo assigned at the Import and Assessment Service
7. A certain Jayson
8. A certain Maita from the formal entry division
‘A rebel but not a thief’
But Maestrecampo during the hearing denied Taguba’s claim and said that, “I’m not receiving money from illicit activities, I’m contented with my sahod [income].”
He also said that he would step down and submit himself to an investigation.
“When I go back to the BOC, I will step down, I will submit everything in any investigation – accounts, my house. Go ahead, your honors,” he told congressmen.
“I may be a rebel, but I’m not a thief,” Maestrecampo added.
He also told Taguba that, “I live in a small town, we are in national television, you have already destroyed me.”
Like BOC chief Nicanor Faeldon, James Layug, and Gerardo Gambalawas, Maestrecampo was among the military officers who staged a short-lived mutiny against the Arroyo administration in 2003.
Estrella likewise denied receiving money to facilitate the shipments from Taguba.
“I categorically deny that I receive money from Mark Taguba. . . I will face my accuser in the proper forum,” he said.
Maronilla and Raval also said they did not get money from Taguba and had not authorized anybody to collect in their behalf.
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