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Palace orders customs team suspended


03:58 AM October 3rd, 2011

By: Jerome Aning, October 3rd, 2011 03:58 AM

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Malacañang has ordered the 90-day suspension of an elite Bureau of Customs team of antismuggling operatives for alleged abuse of authority and extortion activities.

Suspended were Customs Deputy Commissioner Gregorio Chavez and seven of his men in the Run After The Smugglers (RATS) group following a complaint by  Sanyo Seiki Stainless Steel Corp.

The suspension was imposed “considering the seriousness of the charges, the existence of prima facie case against the respondents that they are probably guilty thereof, which warrants their removal from the service,” according to the formal charge signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa on September 29.

The RATS team members suspended were lawyer Christopher Dy Buco and operatives Edgar Quinones, Francisco Fernandez Jr., Alfredo Adao, Jose Elmer Velarde, Thomas Patric Relucio and Jim Erick Acosta.

Chavez and the RATS members were given 10 days to answer the allegations raised by Sanyo Seiki of “grave misconduct, grave abuse of authority, oppression and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.”

The charges against Chavez and his men stemmed from RATS’ raids on the rented warehouses of Sanyo Seiki in Caloocan City on July 1, and Meycauayan City, Bulacan, on July 4; and the impounding of trucks and goods owned by Sanyo Seiki on July 9.

The raids were allegedly conducted with defective mission orders while the impounding was done without the required warrant of seizure and detention.

Sanyo Seiki counsel Frank Chavez welcomed the Palace decision.

“We laud this swift justice given by the Aquino administration to businesses, particularly Sanyo Seiki Stainless Steel Corp., which are usually victimized by some crooked and corrupt men in government,” Chavez said in a statement.

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