Manila judge slapped with admin raps for stopping raids on Mighty Corp.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Monday filed an administrative case against a Manila court judge for stopping the bureau from its raids and inspection on the warehouses of controversial cigarette maker Mighty Corporation.
In a 24-page complaint filed before the Office of the Court Administrator (OCAD), BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said Manila RTC Branch 1 Judge Tita Alisuag committed gross ignorance of the law when she issued the injunction last March 6 that stopped the raids and inspection of the BOC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue against the company that President Rodrigo Duterte earlier accused of tax evasion and smuggling.
Alisuag, according to Faeldon, violated the New Code of Judicial Conduct for allegedly exhibiting “unquestionable bias and partiality” in favor of the corporation.
The BOC’s legal service, through Faeldon, told the OCAD that Alisuag has no jurisdiction over seizure and forfeiture proceedings.
They pointed out that it has been a long-established rule that regular courts have no jurisdiction over seizure and forfeiture proceedings.
“Respondent Judge should not have issued the order for the sole reason that the Manila RTC does not have jurisdiction over the case. The Supreme Court’s Office of the Court Administrator’s Circular No. 79-03 dated June 12, 2003 expressly prohibits regular courts, such as the Manila RTC wherein respondent Judge presides, from issuing TROs against orders of the BOC,” the complaint said.
“Even assuming that the prohibition in the foregoing OCA Circular does not cover all orders or decisions of the BOC, nevertheless, there was still gross ignorance of the law on the part of respondent Judge since the proceedings enjoined clearly involve seizure and forfeiture proceedings has repeatedly been acknowledged by the Supreme Court cannot be enjoined by regular courts,’ it added.
The BOC also argued that Republic Act 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act provides that the BOC has exclusive jurisdiction over all seizure and forfeiture cases.
“Section 301 of the said law provides that “all goods, including means of transport, entering or leaving customs territory, regardless of whether they are liable to duties and taxes, shall be subject to customs control,” the complaint added.
The BOC said the TRO also went overbroad that it practically prohibited the BOC from carrying out its mandate over the respondent.
“It effectively made Mighty Corporation untouchable and immune from any and all acts of the BOC,” the BOC added.
The temporary injunction is effective for 20 days from the filing of the case on March 3.
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