MANILA — Newly-installed Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña on Thursday confirmed that there is indeed corruption within the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
During the seventh Senate panel probe into the PHP6.4-billion shabu shipment from China that slipped through the BOC, Senator Panfilo Lacson directly asked Lapeña if these allegations were true.
“Is there corruption in the Bureau of Customs?” Lacson asked Lapeña.
“There is, your honor,” Lapeña replied, explaining that he has been informed about the so-called “tara” (bribery) system wherein certain businessmen bribed customs workers to facilitate the movement of goods.
Lacson also asked Customs Deputy Commissioner Gerardo Gambala the same question –particularly if there is indeed a system in the agency.
Gambala said: “Yes, that’s what I heard, sir.”
Lacson also asked lawyer Mandy Anderson, chief of staff at the Office of the Commissioner, the same question.
Anderson said that she talked to employees at the bureau and was able to confirm that payoffs were being given although they were never called “tara.”
BOC’s Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) operating unit team leader Joel Pinawin said that there was indeed corruption because the illegal shipment was able to slip through the bureau.
Pinawin, who has been working with the bureau for at least seven years, also denied that he had ever received payoffs rejecting the claim of Customs broker and fixer Mark Taguba who named him as one of the recipients of payoffs.
Lacson, in a privilege speech on August 23, accused several BOC officials including Faeldon as having received millions worth of bribes. He claimed that Faeldon was among the first to receive a bribe worth PHP100 million.
Lacson said that he could not identify his informants at the BOC unless they signify intention or willingness to reduce their information into sworn statements.
Faeldon, meanwhile, strongly denied Lacson’s allegations. PNA-northboundasia.com