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Pimentel seeks Senate probe of Sevilla resignation

/ 04:58 AM April 25, 2015
Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla INQUIRER FILE  PHOTO

Resigned Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

If resigned customs chief John Phillip Sevilla will not reveal more details about the political pressure that forced him to quit, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III will initiate a Senate investigation to dig deeper into the issue.

Pimentel said he wants to know how the Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) operations could be connected to election preparations.

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“If this was an ordinary legislation, I would let it go, but his explanation was different,” he told reporters.

Nobody afraid of law?

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Pimentel said he wanted to know more about the circumstances behind Sevilla’s resignation to determine why it seemed so easy to use the BOC for alleged fundraising for election purposes, as has been claimed in some reports.

“What law do we lack? Why is it so easy to raise funds there? Is there nobody afraid of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Law, afraid of the Ombudsman, afraid of the Sandiganbayan? Does the Ombudsman not have enough powers, do Sandiganbayan cases take so long that nobody fears it?” he asked.

As for the possibility that such an inquiry might affect powerful parties, he said he would let the chips fall where they may.

Asked about the reported involvement of the influential Iglesia ni Cristo religious sect in Sevilla’s troubles in the bureau, the senator said he was not as interested in the alleged participation of an “institution” in the issue.

‘Let’s follow evidence’

“I’d rather focus on the matter of its fundraising. How come it is too easy to raise fund in the Customs?” he said.

But if there should be more involved in the issue, “let’s just follow the evidence,” Pimentel said.

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Earlier, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the Aquino administration should take an interest in Sevilla’s revelations and should take the lead in investigating these.

The Department of Justice should look into the matter, he added.

In announcing his resignation, Sevilla cited the political pressure he had been feeling in the run-up to next year’s elections.

“Politics is in the atmosphere. I could feel strongly political factors are moving in the background.

“In the past months, it was increasingly becoming difficult. In the coming months, it will probably be impossible to (fight it),” he said.

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TAGS: Aquilino Pimentel III, Bureau of Customs, John Phillip Sevilla, Pimentel, Senator Pimentel, Sevilla
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