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Lapeña bares corrupt BOC execs’ scheme

TCCs are documents issued primarily by the BOC to reimburse taxes paid for imported raw goods that should be tax-exempt under the law. File

MANILA, Philippines — Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Isidro Lapeña yesterday disclosed a scheme where corrupt officials make a profit by withholding the release of tax credit certificates.

TCCs are documents issued primarily by the BOC to reimburse taxes paid for imported raw goods that should be tax-exempt under the law.

Lapeña said corrupt bureau officials get a cut of three to seven percent from tax refunds that are redeemed by companies through the TCCs released in batches by the BOC.

The total cuts can reach as much as P35 million in a batch of TCCs released by the BOC, according to Lapeña.

Lapeña made the disclosure at the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing into reported corruption at the BOC and the smuggling of some P6.5 billion worth of shabu from China.

He told the panel that based on intelligence reports, a certain percentage goes to the “pasalubong (welcome gift).”

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“Maybe part of it will also go to those who are processing it,” Lapeña said, referring to the P100 million welcome gift that Sen. Panfilo Lacson said was received by former BOC chief Nicanor Faeldon when he assumed the post earlier this year.

Lapeña said he would be forming a counter-intelligence unit and an internal affairs service in the BOC to cleanse the bureau’s ranks.

He also said he will strengthen the BOC’s ombudsman.

Meanwhile, former Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) officials condemned the smear campaign by the camp of customs fixer Mark Taguba, who was among those charged for the smuggling billions worth of shabu from China last May.

Former CIIS chief Neil Anthony Estrella said the smear campaign against him and his men by Taguba is motivated by the need to discredit them so as to weaken the drug case filed against the self-confessed fixer for arranging the shipment’s passage through the BOC and transfer to an outside warehouse. 

Estrella said Taguba himself admitted in Congress that he implicated the CIIS members in his payola exposé because they had linked him to the drug smuggling case.

“They must destroy our credibility to weaken the case against Mark. That, aside from vengeance, is his motivation for his malicious lies against us,” Estrella said.

Acting CIIS intelligence chief Joel Pinawin found Taguba’s involvement as the broker of the contraband shipment. After locating Taguba, he presented him to the National Bureau of Investigation.

Estrella also belied Taguba’s allegations that his company’s packing list of the shipment did not have the five metal cylinders or molds that contained the drugs.

Hence, Taguba claimed in the Senate probe that the cylinders were never part of his cargo.

Estrella said the original packing list furnished by the shipping company of the container brokered by Taguba had itemized the five metal cylinders as part of the shipment.

Pinawin also denied Taguba’s claim that CIIS personnel, including Estrella, were given payoffs by Taguba.

“If this were so, then why did we present him to the NBI for investigation on May 29, after his name came out as the shipment’s broker? He himself has said in Congress, the only reason he is accusing us is because he is involved in the drug case,” he said.

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