Catch Mr. T et al., Palace tells new Customs execs | Inquirer News

Catch Mr. T et al., Palace tells new Customs execs

/ 02:37 AM December 29, 2013

Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla and Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Jessie Dellosa. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

Malacañang expects its top two appointees to the Bureau of Customs to unmask the three big-time traders who pay off officials and employees of the bureau in order to undervalue their imports, resulting in great revenue losses to the government, a Palace press officer said on Saturday.

But deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said new Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla and Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Jessie Dellosa should be given time to form their own teams and carry out their plans to clean up the agency.


Valte spoke in a radio interview, where she was asked if Sevilla, a former finance undersecretary, and Dellosa, a former military chief of staff, could work together to cleanse the BOC of well-entrenched smugglers and their protectors.


She confirmed that the new BOC leadership was looking into irregularities that had been reported in the papers, particularly the operations of “Big Mama,” “Ma’am T” and “Mr. T,” the three big-time traders whose under-the-table deals with customs officials and employees were behind the agency’s missing its revenue collection goals.

No response

Last week, a newly appointed BOC official disclosed the dealings of “Big Mama,” “Ma’am T” and “Mr. T” with customs insiders to the Inquirer, but this paper’s report did not draw an immediate response from the new leadership at the agency.

The official claimed that the three traders “make a lot of people at the Bureau of Customs happy with regular payoffs in exchange for the undervaluation of their imported goods.”

The source assailed a fellow official who, he claimed, had interceded on behalf of one trader in an operation that resulted in millions of pesos in revenue losses to the government.

Valte said President Aquino had shown his “impartiality” when dealing with crooked officials by bringing charges against even political allies of Malacañang.


Including allies

In the P10-billion pork barrel scam, she said, the National Bureau of Investigation has brought plunder and malversation charges in the Office of the Ombudsman against some allies of the Palace.

Among those allies was former Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, Sevilla’s predecessor at the BOC, who tried to introduce reforms in the bureau but met stiff resistance from officials and employees who stood to lose their pelf as a result of those reforms.

Biazon quit earlier this month after being linked to the pork barrel scam.

Valte said Sevilla would be able to surmount the obstacles that the “demons” in the customs bureau would throw in his way.

Valte mentioned Sevilla’s interview with the Inquirer on his Day 12 on the job, where he spoke about the reports of irregularities in the BOC.

“[H]e was talking about how he intended to go about these reports. Of course, not all reports should be believed. There’s a need to conduct background checks,” Valte said, referring to Sevilla’s slow approach to ridding the BOC of corruption.

In his interview with the Inquirer, Sevilla seemed convinced that the BOC was one of the most corrupt agencies of the government, but he made clear that he could not just shake up the bureau.

He said he had received many reports about irregularities involving BOC personnel, but stressed that it was “important I should not get emotional about this,” meaning he should not rush in with a crackdown.

“What am I going to do, fire everybody?” he said, adding.  “I know I can’t resort to that even if I have the power, which I don’t. You can’t just stop BOC operations for one week then look for their replacements.”


New execs expected to unmask smugglers at Customs—Valte

Dellosa’s first task at BOC: Get smugglers

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Aquino replaces all of Biazon’s deputies

TAGS: ” “Ma’am T, Big Mama, BOC, Mr. T, smugglers, Smuggling

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