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Faeldon urged to clean up Customs amid alleged P270-M daily ‘payola’

MANILA, Aug. 3 — Deputy Speaker Romero Quimbo on Thursday called on Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon to clean up the bureau following allegations that its officials received a bribe money of PHP27,000 per shipment.

Mark Taguba, a customs broker and resource person tagged in the shipment of PHP6.4 billion worth of shabu (crystal meth) from China, admitted that BOC officials receive PHP27,000 per shipment during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

Quimbo noted that the corruption on container shipments is equivalent to PHP270 million a day, considering the average of 10,000 shipments daily.

Quimbo grilled Taguba during the hearing and asked him to reveal how much of the PHP170,000 he charges from clients per container shipment illegally goes to BOC personnel.

Taguba, after much prodding, finally gave the figure of PHP27,000 kickback per container.

Taguba also revealed that prior to engaging EMT Trading and two other companies in a “consignee-for-hire” scheme, he had received assurances that shipments of new importers will be able to pass through BOC’s “green lane” at the port.

Under the BOC’s computerized classification system, products imported to the country pass through four lanes, depending on the risk level: super-green, green, yellow, and red.

The shabu shipment consigned to EMT Trading passed through the green lane. Shipments tagged to pass through the green lane of the BOC are not required to undergo X-ray or manual inspection of its contents.

The illegal shipment was discovered on May 30 when members of the BOC and the National Bureau of Investigation personnel raided a warehouse on Aster Street in Paso de Blas, Valenzuela City, based on a tip coming from their Chinese counterparts.

“Despite the uphill battle to pass the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) last Congress, we persevered because the members of the Committee on Ways and Means then badly wanted to help reform the notoriously corrupt BOC,” Quimbo said.

Quimbo lamented that the corruption in the agency still persists despite arming it with a new law to reform BOC.

“A whopping PHP270 million per day goes to the pockets of BOC employees and officials on container shipments alone. This tests Commissioner Faeldon’s leadership and resolve to stand by his word to clean up BOC,” Quimbo added. (Filane Mikee Cervantes/PNA)

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