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DOF files graft raps vs Customs intel exec

By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:46:00 04/05/2009

Filed Under: Graft & Corruption, Government, Customs & Traditions, Economy and Business and Finance

MANILA, Philippines?For allegedly amassing unexplained wealth, a senior intelligence officer of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) may face dismissal from government service after he was charged with criminal and administrative cases at the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Department of Finance-Revenue Integrity Protection Service (DOF-RIPS) also asked the Ombudsman to seize the assets of Eric Albano, BoC intelligence officer IV, in favor of the government for gross violation of the anti-graft law.

Albano, 56, operations chief of the bureau?s Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, was also charged with dishonesty, perjury, falsification of public documents, and violation of Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

In a joint complaint affidavit dated March 13, DOF-RIPS investigators Oscar Moratin and Crispin Velarde questioned the assets that Albano had acquired during his 29 years of service with the BoC.

Grossly disproportionate

?Contrary to law, the respondent had amassed wealth which is grossly disproportionate to his limited income of P286,512 per annum,? the investigators said in the five-page complaint received by Ombudsman prosecutor Fe Salvador.

?Moreover, it is likewise beyond dispute that respondent had repeatedly perjured himself by making outright falsehoods to cover up for his ill-gotten gains,? they added.

The assets in question include a condominium unit on Meralco Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City with a market value of P9.74 million; a lot in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna worth P3.52 million; and savings, stock shares, jewelry, and furniture amounting to P1.42 million.

In his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN), Albano said he bought the condo unit with the money he received from the sale of a property allegedly owned by his mother in North Cotabato. He added that he acquired the lot in Laguna through a bank loan.

However, the DOF-RIPS discovered that the property in North Cotabato was originally owned by Zainodin Usop and was later bought by the Land Bank of the Philippines.

?With the salary of the respondent, how is he going to pay the monthly amortization if (his property in Laguna) was purchased through a bank loan?? the agency asked.

During its probe, the DOF-RIPS investigators said they also found out that Albano was the registered owner of 10 firearms, including two M16 assault rifles and an MP5 submachine gun.

P900,000 worth of firearms

They noted that Albano did not include his guns, which were estimated to be worth more than P900,000, in his SALN.

?As a government employee, it is improper for the respondent to own the guns. With the salary that he receives, he can hardly pay the necessary cost of licenses and permits (for the guns),? the DOF-RIPS said.

The investigators also noted that Albano, his wife, and their two daughters traveled abroad at least 70 times in the past years which ?necessarily entails spending thousand of dollars in airfare alone.?

The family, they added, also owned two sport utility vehicles: a 2002 model Toyota RAV4 and a brand new Toyota Prado.

Four companies

The DOF?s anticorruption arm likewise discovered that Albano put up four companies apparently to make it appear that he had other sources of income.

But a check made with the Quezon City assessor?s office and the Bureau of Internal Revenue showed that Albano?s supposed businesses did not pay a single centavo in taxes.

?The above findings clearly showed that (Albano) manufactured and declared said business interests to justify and support his ill-gotten wealth,? the DOF-RIPS said.

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