Headlines ( Leaderboard Top ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Ping bares BOC rogues’ gallery; Faeldon got P100 M?

Sen. Panfilo Lacson bared this yesterday in his privilege speech where he detailed what he described as “the labyrinth and lexicon of the criminals” inside the BOC that resulted not only in the loss of billions in revenues annually but also the smuggling of drugs into the country. Panfilo Lacson/Released, File

MANILA, Philippines - Shortly after he assumed the top post at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) last year, outgoing commissioner Nicanor Faeldon was given P100 million as “pasalubong” (welcome gift) with a quarter of it pocketed as “finder’s fee” by a middleman.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson bared this yesterday in his privilege speech where he detailed what he described as “the labyrinth and lexicon of the criminals” inside the BOC that resulted not only in the loss of billions in revenues annually but also the smuggling of drugs into the country.

“Loud whispers in the four corners of the BOC compound tell of a P100-million pasalubong to the newly installed commissioner, a quarter of which, or P25 million, was retained as finder’s fee by his middleman named Joel Teves,” Lacson said.

“Unfortunately, instead of going against the system, he was eaten by the system, thereby effectively tolerating and even promoting the impunity of corruption,” the senator said, referring to Faeldon.

Lacson said he was able to gather much information – mostly volunteered – that he vetted after the Senate Blue Ribbon committee started its inquiry into the smuggling of some P6.4 billion worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu that passed through the BOC’s express lane.

He said corruption at the BOC remains deeply entrenched and it is so widespread that new officials succumb to the huge profits of the “tara” system.

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

That system has also led to new terms like “consignee-for-hire” and “selective lane mechanism.”

The tara is a system of “levies” imposed per container entering the country whose proceeds are divided by numerous brokers and BOC officials weekly.

The senator said about 40 percent of the 10,000 containers entering the country daily are imposed with tara.

“It is a smuggling mafia out there, Mr. President, a criminal state that has no fear of government nor the President,” Lacson said.

From the list furnished by various sources, he said a “standard tara” from a low of P19,000 to a high of P45,000 is paid to the Customs officials in the central office for each container.

On top of this, Manila International Container Port (MICP) officials and employees also collect payola amounting of P14,700 on the low side and P23,700 on the high side for 40-foot containers.

“Hence, the total tara being paid for each container is from P33,700 to P68,700,” the senator said.

For a 40-foot container for the Port of Manila, the tara of the Customs officials and employees amounts to P15,700 to P26,700. If added to the standard tara, the total ranges from P34,700 to P71,700.

“From this, the share of each office or person within the bureau can range from a low of P200 to a high of P15,000 per container. Believe it or not, officials from the top offices of the bureau down to those who monitor the gates and X-ray have their share in tara,” he said.

Faeldon denies allegations

Following Lacson’s revelations, Faeldon yesterday denied the senator’s allegation he had instructed people to collect tara for him and called for a third-party investigation.

“I have not asked anybody to collect tara for me nor have I accepted any tara from anybody. Again, I have not done any form of corruption in my many years of government service nor tolerated those who tried, even in the form of request. No is no,” Faeldon said.

“The country will appreciate if a third party investigation by a competent body will be conducted so that justice will be served. Just like the honorable Senator Lacson and the Filipino people, I want the truth to come out,” he added.

BOC Legal Division chief Alvin Ebreo, a retired Army captain and member of the Magdalo group, said the accusation that he was among those receiving grease money was mere “gossip.”

“I don’t even dignify this gossip. This is an abuse of parliamentary immunity,” he said.

BOC deputy commissioner for management information systems and technology Gerardo Gambala yesterday said he is leaving his fate in God’s hands.

“The Lord knows what I have done. I cannot hide anything from Him. That’s why I submit to His will and hold on to His promise that He will never leave me nor forsake me,” he said.

The former Army captain and Magdalo leader lamented that the intrigues in the bureau – such as he being among those who receive tara – has “badly wounded” him, but he is trying to be strong for the sake of his family.  – With Evelyn Macairan, Christina Mendez, Edith Regalado, Rudy Santos

 

 

Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
  • Follow Us: