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Customs officials admit ‘tara’ system exists

The new Customs’ chief and other agency officials on Thursday admitted that there is a “tara” system in the bureau. Philstar.com / Rosette Adel, file

MANILA, Philippines — The new Customs’ chief and other agency officials on Thursday admitted that there is a “tara” bribery system in the bureau.

In separate statements at the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing into the P6.4 billion worth shabu shipment from China, three officials of the Bureau of Customs all said corruption exists within the bureau. The three officials are Commissioner Isidro Lapeña, Deputy Commissioner Gerardo Gambala, and chief of staff Mandy Anderson.

 Lapeña, who replaced former Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, explained that the 'tara' system is a form of bribery to facilitate the movement of goods through Customs checkers.

“There is [corruption,]” Lapeña said when asked by Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson whether 'tara' exists.

“When I assumed as the commissioner of Customs, the information I got is [that] there was this tara system,” he added.

Gambala, on the other hand, enumerated extortion and harassment as some of the issues he faced when he arrived in the bureau. He cited some people “help importers or other unscrupulous persons to undertake technical smuggling.”  

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“Those are the issues I was confronted or I was told when I arrived at the bureau,” Gambala said.

Anderson, who was appointed by Faeldon, said she learned that system is being done regularly in the agency.

“I had the chance to talk with different rank-an- file employees and some of them would mention that there was a system distribution of money but that was all I got from them,” she said saying some do not call the system 'tara'.

Last August 23, Lacson allleged in a privilege speech at the Senate that there is a so-called “tara” system in the bureau.  He said Faeldon is aware of this before he assumed office as it has been corrupting the agency for so long.

Lacson also revealed some of the names of the alleged bribe givers or "players.” He also named people whom he said were recipients of “tara” or the payola.

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