Customs broker names BOC officials ‘on the take’

MANILA-- A customs broker on Monday named ranking officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) allegedly receiving bribe money to process shipments.

At a congressional inquiry on the 600-kilogram shabu shipment from China, Mark Taguba was asked who among BOC officials are receiving grease money or "tara".

The officials he named during the hearing at the House of Representatives include:

BOC's Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Director Neil Anthony Estrella; Intelligence Group deputy commissioner Teddy Raval; Import Assessment Services (IAS) Director Milo Maestrecampo; Manila International Container Port district collector Vincent Philip Maronilla; and CIIS officer Teddy Sagaral.

Also included were a certain Major Gutierrez who passed away last July; a certain Maita Acebedo; a certain Jason of X-ray division; a certain Jojo; and a certain Gerry among others.

Taguba also mentioned a certain "Tita Nani" who gives him tariff codes so shipments would be smoothly cleared.

In the meantime, Estrella, Raval, Maestrecampo, Maronilla and Sagaral denied Taguba's allegations.

Estrella was among the Customs officials who planned the raid against separate Valenzuela City warehouses where the PHP6.4-billion worth of shabu from China was confiscated.

He categorically denied Taguba's accusations but he said he would be willing to submit himself to any investigation.

Kung tumatanggap kami, bakit hinuli namin ang shipment? Estrella said.

He also expressed dismay over the effects of such allegations to his reputation as well as that of his family.

"Pakiramdam ko ho ngayon sasabihin ko sa mga tao ko, ito po yung risk ng ating profession. I will face my accuser in the proper forum," Estrella said.

Maestrecampo became emotional when he responded to the allegations.

I hope you realize. I live in a small town. We're on national television. You have already destroyed me I am not receiving money from illicit activities. I'm contented with my sahod (pay) pero binuyangyang na sa media, Maestrecampo said.

Maestrecampo also denied knowing Tita Nani whom Taguba allegedly transacted with on behalf of his office.

When I go back to Customs, I will step down from my appointed post. I will submit anything, including my records and my accounts, to the investigation, the former Magdalo soldier said.

Raval, for his part, said he has not met or spoken to Taguba prior to the hearing.

Taguba has claimed that he has been in touch with a certain Gerry in Raval's office.

"I have not met Mr. Taguba prior to this hearing. I only have 5 people on my staff. There is no 'Jerry' there," Raval said.

Maronilla, meanwhile, said he has not authorized anyone to collect money on his behalf.

"If there is someone presenting himself to be connected with Office of Collector, as what Mr. Taguba said, I welcome the information and I will investigate it," he said.

Sagaral also denied the allegations.

Nakakalungkot isipin na sira na ang pangalan namin ngayon nationwide. Wala na akong magagawa, pati pangalan ng mga kamaganak dahil sa isang akusasyon, he said.

Like his fellow BOC officials, Sagaral said he is ready to face any investigation.

Source: Philippine News Agency