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Customs chief relieves 2 execs for questionable tariffs

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Isidro Lapeña relieved district collector Vincent Philip Maronilla, who headed the Manila International Container Port (MICP) where the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China passed through last May 23.

Aside from Maronilla, Lapeña also ordered the transfer of acting Port of Manila (POM) district collector Ma. Rhea Gregorio last Sept. 11. 

Maronilla and Gregorio, who headed two of the primary seaports in the country, were reassigned to the BOC Compliance Monitoring Unit (CMU).

Lapeña said he ordered the transfer of Maronilla and Gregorio because the “benchmarking (was) contrary to my guidance to have the correct valuation of goods as basis of tariff.”

Maronilla said he respects Lapeña’s decision.

“It is the prerogative of the commissioner to assign us wherever he sees fit. I respect his decision and will support him in any way I can,” Maronilla said.

He also said he does not believe that the CMU is an office for officials placed on “floating status.”

“I am sure there will be some work that will be assigned to us. We will just await the commissioner’s directive,” Maronilla added.

MICP deputy collector for operations Ruby Claudia Alameda was named MICP officer-in-charge, replacing Maronilla. 

POM deputy collector for operations Ernelito Aquino, meanwhile, was appointed POM OIC vice Gregorio.

The 604 kilos of shabu concealed inside five cylinders and valued at P6.4 billion arrived from China last May 16. It reportedly passed through the green lane and was consigned to EMT Trading.

About 100 kilos of shabu reportedly used for the “controlled delivery” was later found in the warehouse owned by Chinese businessman Richard Tan.

During the investigations, Mark Taguba, who reportedly facilitated the release of the shipment, identified Customs officials who allegedly received “tara” (grease money) for the unimpeded release of the illegal substance.

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