Lacson: BOC collects up to P71,700 tara for each shipment smuggled in PH
Updated at 1:57 a.m.
Customs officials and employees collected up to P71,700 tara on each shipment smuggled through the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Sen. Panfilo Lacson bared on Wednesday.
In his comprehensive privilege speech, Lacson said that BOC officials, including former Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, and employees collected payola – known as “tara” – amounting to P31,300 to P71,700 on each shipment smuggled through the agency.
According to Lacson, smugglers paid the BOC Central Office a “standard tara” of P19,000 to P45,000 for each container.
On top of that, official and employees of the Manila International Container Port (MICP) collected an additional tara of P14,700 to P23,700 for each 40-foot container and P12,200 to P20,700 for each 20-foot container.
The total tara collected by BOC officials and employees range from P33,700 to P68,700 for each 40-foot container van and P31,300 to P23,700 for each 20-foot container that passed through the MICP.
The tara collected at the Port of Manila (POM) is higher than at the MICP. POM officials and employees collected an additional tara of P15,700 to P26,700 for each 40-foot container and P13,200 to P23,700 for each 20-foot container.
That means BOC officials and employees collected between P34,700 to P71,700 for each 40-foot container, and P32,300 to P68,700 for each 20-foot container, that passed through the POM.
Quoting data from the BOC, Lacson said on average, around 15,000 to 16,000 containers are transacted for release every week at the MICP and POM. Of this, between 6,000 to 6,400 – or approximately 40 percent of the total weekly containers – have tara.
According to Lacson, five of the six BOC department heads regularly received tara, namely:
- Deputy Commissioner Teddy Raval of the Intelligence Group
- Deputy Commissioner Ariel Nepomuceno of the Enforcement Group
- Deputy Commissioner Gerardo Gambala of the Command Center and Management Information System and Technology Group
- Deputy Commissioner Natalio Ecarma III of the Revenue Collection Monitoring Group
- Deputy Commissioner Edward James Dy Buco of the Assessment and Operations Coordination Group
Lacson said the tara system showed the systemic corruption at the BOC.
“In fact, the bureau can give the mafia a stiff competition,” he said.
If the government would want to win the war against drugs, Lacson said, it would need to wage an “all-out, sustained war against corruption,” especially at the BOC.
“Mr. President, I believe nothing will happen if we do not address the moral bankruptcy that is intrinsic among the officials and members of the Bureau of Customs,” he said.
Devils at BOC?
“Hell is empty and all the devils are at the Customs,” Lacson said, borrowing the words of Shakespeare’s “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”
“And for the devils, the BOC is heaven—a heaven that is a haven for crooks, criminals, malefactors and Faeldons … sorry, I meant felons,” the senator said.
Earlier in his speech, Lacson said Faeldon received P100 million as “pasalubong,” or welcome gift, right after assuming his position at the Customs.
“Loud whispers in the four corners of the Bureau of Customs compound tell of a P100-million pasalubong for the newly-installed commissioner,” Lacson said.
A quarter of the “pasalubong,” Lacson said, was retained as a finder’s fee by a certain Joel Teves, Faeldon’s alleged middleman.
Faeldon, who was replaced on Monday night by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Isidro Lapeña, is caught in the middle of the P6.4-billion drug smuggling controversy, the subject of simultaneous investigations of both chambers of Congress.
Swallowed by the system
Lacson said that instead of going against the system, Faeldon was swallowed by the system by “effectively tolerating and even promoting” the impunity of corruption.
“Holy mackerel!” Lacson said. “Welcome pa lang may kita na. It is an outright cash incentive, Mr. President.”
At the end of his speech, Lacson vouched for Lapeña’s integrity and hoped that he would not be swallowed by the BOC system and end up like Faeldon.
“I can only hope and pray na hindi siya kainin ng sistema gaya ng nauna sa kanya,” Lacson said. With a report from PDI/ATM/ac
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