NBI recommends graft, misconduct raps vs. LapeAa

MANILA Government investigators have recommended graft charges against former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner and now Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Isidro S. LapeAa over alleged irregularities in the release of 105 containers of ceramic tiles worth at least PHP69 million from China by port operator Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI) last March.

In a 35-page report filed before the Department of Justice (DoJ) Monday, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Legal Service Division Chief Joselito R. Amon and Assistant Director Leo Edwin Leuterio recommended that LapeAa and unnamed John Does "be charged and prosecuted for violation of Sec. 3, Par/ (e) of Rep .Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act" and "administratively charged with gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct,".

The NBI noted supposed lapses on the part of LapeAa when he bypassed the bureau's computerized processing system known as E2M by issuing a "manual alert order" and then failing to follow through with a special stop order to prevent the containers' eventual release.

The NBI also recommended a review of the arrangement between the ports and ATI.

"It is also respectfully recommended that Office of the Solicitor General, which office is tasked to review contracts under investigation by the NBI, to review the Contract for Cargo Handling and Related Services entered into by and between the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and Asian Terminals, Inc.," the NBI report added.

The NBI added under the present arrangements "it is clear that even if the ATI personnel are engaged in smuggling and illegal activities, the PPA could not motu proprio (on its own) institute a case for violation of Tariff and Customs laws. Instead, it will allow the contractor to take action over the case".

Under the present contract, the PPA could not take any action against ATI if its personnel, in case of their failure to exercise due diligence in the performance of their duties "as the enumeration provided in the contract is exclusive, the failure to exercise due diligence is not one of them," the NBI added. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency