MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Monday revealed another corrupt practice inside the Bureau of Customs wherein certain personnel under the office of resigned BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon allegedly impose a double tara or additional grease money to lift a “special stop order” on shipments before these are finally released from the agency.
During the resumption on Monday of the Senate inquiry’s into the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu through the BOC, Lacson said the doble tara was separate from the regular tara being distributed to offices under the BOC.
“‘Yon ‘yong tinatawag na doble tara ng doble kara. Nag-tara na, napunta na sa green lane, prinocess na, tatarahan pa ulit sa pamamagitan pa ng special stop order,” Lacson said.
The senator also identified from documents he obtained from the BOC that Mike Saban, a technical consultant assigned at Faeldon’s office, had requested in December 2016 special stop orders on shipments later approved by Faeldon.
The documents also revealed that the shipments issued with special stop orders were already examined days before being endorsed by an administrative officer assigned at Faeldon’s office, identified as Genefielle Lagmay, a lawyer.
“Dalawang araw bago dumating ang official request o ‘yong endorsement na ginawa ni Attorney Lagmay, meron nang examination report. Bakit nauna ang karitela sa kabayo?” Lacson asked.
Customs collector Lourdes Mangawang during the hearing said, “I believe that’s a bit irregular.”
Customs collector Liza Sebastian from BOC’s Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service explained that a special stop order is a facility used by the Office of the Commissioner to prevent the release of shipments even after the duties and taxes had already been paid.
She further said the special stop order could be issued upon the recommendation of the Customs alerting units, such as the deputy commissioner on intelligence group, deputy commissioner on enforcement group, and district collectors.
Customs deputy commissioner for enforcement Arnel Alcaraz added that issuing stop alert orders is part of the discretionary power of the Customs commissioner.
According to Sebastian, non-regular employees like Saban and Lagmay were not allowed to request or to endorse stop alert orders.
During the inquiry, Lacson asked Customs Deputy Commissioner Gerardo Gambala why all the requests made by Saban were approved by Faeldon and why Saban was given the authority to make requests for stop orders.
“Bakit nagkaroon ng power or authority na gumawa ng request at lahat ng request [of Saban] ay ina-approve ni Commissioner Faeldon? Bakit po gano’n ang sistema?”
“‘Yan po ang hindi ko maintindihan [That’s what I don’t understand], Sir, with regards to the status of Michael Saban,” Gambala replied.
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