Porsche-driving Customs clerk case shines spotlight on graft
MANILA, Philippines—A road-rage case involving a lowly paid port clerk driving a Porsche has highlighted huge problems in trying to clean up the Philippines’ corruption-riddled Bureau of customs, its chief said Friday.
Paulino Elevado, a customs officer at Manila’s port, could face attempted murder charges following last month’s incident in which he allegedly shot at a university student, according to the government’s prosecutor’s office.
Customs chief Rufino Biazon said bureau investigators were also checking how Elevado, who earns less than P10,000 ($237) a month, could afford to be driving a Porsche worth $118,000.
Regardless of the outcome of Elevado’s case, it has shone a spotlight on the wider problem of trying to clean up the customs bureau, widely regarded as one of the most corrupt government agencies, according to Biazon.
“It’s not just the personnel, it’s the system that we’re dealing with here,” Biazon, appointed by President Benigno Aquino five months ago to fight graft, told a local radio.
“If we really want to change the system we might as well abolish the bureau and rebuild from scratch.”
Elevado and a male passenger are accused of beating up two motorists and of shooting at the victims’ van, Tess Teves, an officer with the prosecutor’s department in the Manila district of Pasay, told Agence France-Presse.
“Police have filed a complaint for attempted murder and physical injuries against them (Elevado and his passenger),” Teves said, but added prosecutors had yet to decide whether charges will be laid.
Elevado has been suspended from his job as “administrative aide” at the port of Manila, Biazon said.
The alleged assault on January 21 followed a minor car accident between the two vehicles, which led to the Porsche chasing the van down a Manila toll road at high speed.
The chase was filmed by the toll road’s cameras.
Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International said the Philippines ranked as the world’s 53rd most corrupt nation out of 182 in its global corruption perceptions survey last year.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.