Seamen’s group files graft case versus Marina officials
MANILA — A seamen’s group has filed a graft complaint against several Maritime Industry Authority officials for alleged “arrogation of authority” in the implementation of a Palace order giving incentives in the use of brand new vessels.
In an 11-page complaint filed Monday at the Office of the Ombudsman, the United Filipino Seafarers sought graft charges and administrative sanctions against current administrator Marcial Quirico Amaro III and nine former Marina officials.
The complaint assailed the approval of Marina Circular No. 15-04, which serves as the implementing rules and regulations of Executive Order No. 909, series of 2010, issued in 2010 by then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
UFS, led by its president Nelson Ramirez, accused Marina of bestowing upon itself the authority to grant “pioneer status” to brand-new vessels classed by the International Association of Classification Societies. This entitles the shipowner to incentives, tax holidays and fee discounts.
UFS has claimed the Board of Investments has the duty to evaluate and accept applications to avail of the “pioneer status,” because EO 909 granted that perk “as defined” under the Investment Priorities Plan for 2009 prepared by the BOI.
“Nowhere in EO 909 does it state that MARINA may grant ‘Pioneer Status’ to qualified ship owners and operators. It was excluded because that power is vested exclusively with BOI,” the complaint read. “Respondents’ approval of MC 2015-04 took this power away from BOI and arrogated it to MARINA.”
The complaint added that the Marina circular unduly expanded the coverage of EO 909, which it said only granted a 50-percent discount on processing fees as a six-year protection of investment.
UFS said the Marina circular was anomalous for inserting a six-year moratorium on the deployment of ships in routes used by the “pioneer status” grantees.
Thus, UFS accused the Marina officials of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for causing undue injury to the government and giving unwarranted benefits to private parties.
They were also accused of the administrative offenses of grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Amaro was named respondent as the current implementor of the circular, having granted “pioneer status” to several applicants.
His fellow respondents include former administrator Dr. Maximo Mejia Jr., former deputy administrator for operations Gloria Banas, and former board members Benel Lagua, Jonathan Tariman, Hector Miole, Rommel Antonio Cuenca, Emma Panopio, Dario Alampay and Roberto Umali. SFM/rga
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