Ombudsman orders dismissal of 7 Customs officials
MANILA, Philippines – Seven officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) were ordered dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman after being found guilty of various administrative offenses.
According to the decision approved by Ombudsman Samuel Martires last Aug. 15, the following officials were found guilty of offenses committed in different circumstances:
- Deputy Collector for Operations Ramon Hernandez
- Special Police Assistant Chief Jaybee Cometa
- Officer V Lomonto Macabando
- Officer IV Dolores Domingo
- Officer III Vanzandt Remonde
- Security Guard II Renly Tiñana
- Special Agent Oscar Farin
Hernandez, the highest-ranking official in the group, was found guilty of violating three BOC memorandum orders when he allowed the transfer of 539 containers from the Manila International Container Port (MICP) to the Port of Batangas, even if some of the cargoes supposedly did not reach their destination.
He was also called out for allowing the containers to bypass certain requirements — such as X-ray examinations and X-ray image printouts. Aside from gross neglect of duty, he was also slapped with a grave misconduct charge.
If Hernandez, who was preventively suspended by former BOC Commissioner Isidro Lapeña, could not be dismissed, he would be required to pay a fine equivalent to his salary for a year.
Accused Macabando was charged for grave misconduct after a passenger at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 3 gave him a clutch bag last May 5, 2018. After Macabando was asked to return the clutch bag, it was discovered that it contained assorted pieces of jewelry that were not declared before the BOC.
As with Hernandez, Macabando was also ordered to pay a fine equal to his salary for a year if he could not be dismissed from his post.
Domingo was slapped with a one-year suspension without pay for gross insubordination for challenging transfer orders that reassigned her at the Port of Cagayan de Oro. According to Domingo in her letter to former BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, her transfer was merely prompted by a feud with Director Milo Maestrocampo.
She also said that, as a mother, being assigned to a far-flung area, would be detrimental to her family, as she would need to shell out additional expenses for rent and travels back to Manila, where her family resides.
In the decision, the Office of the Ombudsman clarified that it did not have the jurisdiction to determine whether the transfer order was valid. However, what it considered was the mere refusal to obey an order by a superior official.
In the other cases, Remonde was also ordered dismissed for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and serious dishonesty for initially issuing an alert order against a shipment declared to be containing “refractory mortar” — heat resistant mixes — and then revoking the alert.
However, an inspection conducted by Lapeña himself revealed that the package contained sacks of sugar instead.
If he could not be dismissed from office, he would have to pay a fine equivalent to his salary for a year.
All of the charges were either filed or refiled by incumbent BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
Corruption allegations have hounded BOC for years. The issue has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to conduct major shuffling of personnel in the agency, with Guerrero being the third military official to head BOC under his administration.
Just before his fourth State of the Nation Address, Duterte said he was going to fire around 50 BOC officials for graft and corruption issues.
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