MANILA, Philippines – Recently resigned Bureau of Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon was identified by Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday as among those allegedly benefitting from the systemic corruption at the BOC.
In his privilege speech, Lacson said Faeldon “should’ve stood firm” against the tara system at the bureau “even if he’s alone” but “instead of going against the system, siya ang kinain ng sistema [he was the one eaten by the system].”
[READ SEN. LACSON’S PRIVILEGE SPEECH HERE.]
Among the payolas supposedly received by Faeldon after he was appointed BOC chief in June 2016 was a “welcome pasalubong” of P100 million, according to the lawmaker.
“Loud whispers in the four corners of the Bureau of Customs compound tell of a 100-million-peso ‘pasalubong’ to the newly-installed Commissioner,” said Lacson.
Lacson also said a quarter of the cash incentive for Faeldon was retained as finder’s fee by an alleged middleman named Joel Teves.
“Holy mackerel! Welcome pa lang, may kita na [It’s just a welcome but there’s income already],” the senator said.
Lacson also questioned Faeldon’s previous statement that he could not investigate the tara system at the BOC because he was working alone on the matter.
“Boo-hoo! Tell that to the Marines, Mr. Faeldon, but not this institution,” he said.
The senator then pointed to records showing that as early as July 1, 2016, Faeldon had already hired the services of Gerardo Gambala, Milo Maestrocampo, Mandy Anderson, and Henry Anthony Torres as technical assistants.
Each of them received a monthly compensation of P40,000 to P50,000, according to the senator.
“Kitang kita the lies [The lies are very clear],” Lacson said.
He said Faeldon “should have stood firm even if he was alone” since the BOC had became a “haven” for crooks and criminals.
“The Bureau of Customs is heaven – a heaven that is a haven for crooks, criminals, malefactors, and Faeldons…sorry, I meant felons,” he said.
Other BOC execs, personnel said to be receiving taras
The senator said grease money-takers within the BOC were those from top to bottom — from the bureau’s highest officials to those guarding the agency’s X-ray machines.
Lacson said Faeldon and other alleged beneficiaries of the huge regular bribes at the bureau found it hard to resist corruption because it gave them so much comfort.
“‘Pag nasarapan ka, hahanap-hanapin pa ang dagdag-kita,” the senator said.
The senator likewise named the following ranking BOC officials as among alleged bribe-takers: Deputy commissioners Teddy Raval, Ariel Nepomuceno, Gerardo Gambala, Natalio C. Ecarma III, and Edward Dy Buco; Neil Estrella, head of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service; Larrybert Hilario, head of the BOC Risk Management Office; and Milo Maestrecampo, Import Assessment Service director.
Also included in Lacson’s tara list are: Zsae De Guzman, chief of the Intellectual Property Rights Commission; Joel Pinawin, officer-in-charge of the Intelligence Division; Grace Malabed, acting chief of the Accounts Management Office; and Alvin Embreo, director of the Revenue Collection Monitoring Group’s Legal Service.
The senator also accused the following of benefitting from the grease money being dispensed for the easy release of imported cargoes: Athena Dans of the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT)’s Informal entry Division; all section heads, appraisers, examiners in the informal entry division at the Port of Manila (POM); and the chief appraiser and examiners of the MICP and POM sections 1, 9, 10, and 15.
5 alleged big players
Lacson also named the five big players allegedly pulling the strings at the BOC and how many containers they facilitate to bring out of the agency daily using taras.
1. David Tan – 100 to 110 containers
2. Manny Santos – 80 to 100 containers
3. Davao Group – 80 to 100 containers
4. Teves Group – 80 to 100 containers
5. “Kimberly” Gamboa – 50 to 80 containers
He also listed the offices within the agency allegedly receiving grease money per container at the Central Office of the BOC as well as the personnel of the MICP and the POM.
· Office of the Commissioner – 5,000 to 10,000
· Command Center – P5,000 to P10,000
· Assessment, Operations and Coordinating Group – P1,000 to P3,000
· Intelligence Group (IG)– P1,500 to P3,000
· Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Central – P3,000 to P10,000
· CIIS Director’s Office – P500 to P1,000
· Intellectual Property Rights Division (IPRD) – P1,000 to P3,000
· Accounts Management Office (AMO) P1,000 to P2,000
· Import Assessment Service (IAS) – P1,000 to P3,000
· MICP and Port of Manila – P9,000 to P15,000 for the section heads, appraisers, and examiners in the formal entry division for both MICP and POM
· Informal Entry Division for MICP and POM – P1,000 to P3,000
· MICP and POM Collector’s Office – P3,000
· MICP and POM CIIS Port – P500 to P1,000
· MICP and POM Enforcement and Security Service – P500
· MICP and POM – P500 to P1,000
· Piers and inspection division for MICP and POM – P200
· POM Deputy District Collector – P1,000 to P3,000
Lacson also enumerated the list of alleged bagmen for each BOC office as well district collectors and officers who were also recipients of the tara.
He likewise blasted the BOC, paraphrasing a Shakespeare quote to express his indignation by saying, “Hell is empty and all the devils are at the Bureau of Customs.”
War on corruption needed in war vs drugs
He also lamented on how the agency failed to fight corruption despite being the centerpiece of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign promises along with combating illegal drugs in the country.
“If the frontline government agency called the Bureau of Customs would allow consciously or the convenient smuggling of tons of shabu in our country, it is impossible to win the battle against illegal drugs,” he said.
He also insisted on bringing the intensity of the administration’s war against drugs to the war against corruption, saying that the battle starts at the BOC.
“If we intend to remain committed to the war on drugs, we need a war on corruption,” he said.
“It is also high time to send off an all-out sustained war against corruption and the battle starts at the Bureau of Customs,” he added.
Click and watch the video report of News5’s Mae Ann Los Baños below: