2 customs execs tied to smuggling promoted

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Two Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials implicated in the disappearance in broad daylight of 1,626 containers while in transit from the Port of Manila to the Batangas City port two years ago were rewarded with higher positions, the Inquirer learned.

Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon promoted Fernandino Tuason as director of the BOC intelligence group in September 2012, while lawyer Floro Calixihan Jr. was promoted last February as deputy of Manila International Container Port Collector Ricardo “Boysie” Belmonte, brother of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

Tuason replaced his boss, Filemeno C. Vicencio Jr., a retiree who was also included in the charge sheet of the National Bureau of Investigation while Calixihan took over Precy Bauzon’s post.

“That is news to me. They have not submitted their papers,” said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, who oversees the Bureau of Customs.

The Inquirer tried but failed to reach Biazon for comment. He was not responding to calls or text message sent to his mobile phone.

The BOC is in a flux after President Aquino delivered scathing remarks against the agency in his State of the Nation Address last month.

Biazon and his officers have responded to the lambasting by handing in their resignation papers but only Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim has so far left the bureau.

 

Thick face

“Saan kayo kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha? (Where do you get that thick face?)” the President said in his speech, referring to the BOC’s persistent record of corruption and incompetence.

Tuason was chief of the intelligence division and Calixihan was Attorney II of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service in May 2012 when they were recommended for prosecution by the NBI in the Office of the Ombudsman.

The NBI accused Tuason and Calixihan—along with 19 other BOC officers, three brokers, three importer consignees and forwarders, and two warehouse owners—of grand conspiracy in the disappearance of 20 container vans on various dates from February to June 2011.

This batch of 20 vans was part of the 1,626 container vans that were reported missing in 2011, which led to the resignation of Angelito Alvarez in September that year.

The NBI investigation showed that Tuason and Calixihan had been alerted about the smuggled goods in the 20 container vans consigned to Eagle Trading.

“But there were no examinations to be performed, spot check or full, by those concerned because after the alert orders were lifted, the 20 container vans were immediately loaded to various trucks and were delivered directly to various destinations as advised by the broker and consignee of the trucking firms,” the NBI said in its filing with the Ombudsman.

“The concerned BOC personnel, aside from intentionally not performing their assigned tasks and responsibilities did not even bother to check the status of the alerted container vans nor did they prepare the necessary postexamination report,” the NBI said.

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