Lacson names ‘corrupt’ Customs officials led by Faeldon

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Lacson names ‘corrupt’ Customs officials led by Faeldon
Senator Panfilo Lacson alleges that outgoing Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon received a P100-million 'welcome pasalubong' when he assumed office

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday, August 23, named officials at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) who allegedly received bribes, led by its outgoing chief, Nicanor Faeldon.

In a privilege speech outlining the extent of corruption in the BOC, Lacson also named the alleged bribe givers at the agency and the bagmen or collectors who facilitated the so-called “tara” system or bribery that has long plagued the agency. (READ: FULL TEXT: ‘Kita kita sa Customs’)

Lacson said that instead of eliminating bribery in the BOC, Faeldon even allegedly tolerated and promoted corruption in the agency.

“Unfortunately, instead of going against the system, siya ang kinain ng sistema (he was swallowed by the system) thereby effectively tolerating and even promoting the impunity of corruption,” the senator said.

Lacson cited talk in the BOC about the P100-million “welcome” gift that Faeldon supposedly received upon his assumption as Customs chief.

“Loud whispers in the 4 corners of the Bureau of Customs compound tell of a P100-million ‘pasalubong’ (gift) to the newly-installed Commissioner, a quarter of which, or P25 million was retained as finder’s fee by his middleman named Joel Teves,” the senator said.

“If in the AFP, under a previous administration, you end your stint with the infamous ‘Goodbye, Pabaon,’ sa Bureau of Customs naman (in the Bureau of Customs) you start your stint with a ‘Welcome, Pasalubong.’ Holy mackerel! Welcome pa lang, may kita na (You get money from the start),” he said.

Lacson described accepting the “outright cash incentive” as a “slippery slope.”

“As they say, ‘Corruption is like a ball of snow. Once it’s set a rolling it must increase.’ Once one accepts the pasalubong (gift), then the ball of corruption starts to snowball. At, ‘pag nasarapan na, hahanap-hanapin pa ang dagdag-kita (And once you like it, you will always look for the additional income),” he said.

Faeldon denied the allegation and maintained that he never accepted bribes during his watch in the BOC. President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Monday, August 21, that he had accepted Faeldon’s resignation.

‘Very credible list’

Lacson said that when the issue of bribery at the BOC again made headlines because of the P6.4-billion shabu shipment smuggled from China, he began receiving information on the so-called “tara” list of the BOC. (READ: TIMELINE: How P6.4B worth of shabu was smuggled into PH from China)

“We carefully vetted and cross-matched each and every information to come up with an objectively filtered and detailed list of who and how much each office or official in the Bureau collects per container per day,” Lacson said.

The senator said it was “almost an easy job to come up with a very credible ‘tara’ list,” as the documents and lists of those receiving bribes “almost had the same names of the Customs officials and offices involved, bagmen, and operators.”

Lacson named the following as alleged bribe takers in the BOC:

  1. Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon
  2. Deputy Commissioner Teddy Raval – Intelligence Group (IG)
  3. Deputy Commissioner Ariel Nepomuceno – Enforcement Group (EG)
  4. Deputy Commissioner Gerardo Gambala – Command Center
  5. Deputy Commissioner Natalio Ecarma III – Revenue Collection Monitoring Group (RCMG)
  6. Deputy Commissioner Edward James Dy Buco – Assessment and Operations Coordination Group (AOCG)
  7. Director Neil Estrella – Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), and alleged to also collect for the Office of the Commissioner (OCOMM) together with Chris Bolastig
  8. Atty Zsae de Guzman – Chief, Intellectual Property Rights Division
  9. Atty Larribert Hilario – Risk Management Office (RMO)
  10. Joel Pinawin – Officer-in-Charge, Intelligence Division (one of the alleged collectors of Director Estrella)
  11. Director Milo Maestrecampo – Import and Assessment Service (IAS)
  12. Atty Grace Malabed – Acting Chief, Account Management Office (AMO)
  13. Atty Alvin Ebreo – Director, Legal Service under RCMG
  14. All section heads, appraisers, and examiners – Formal Entry Division in both the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and Port of Manila (POM)
  15. Athena Dans – Informal Entry Division, MICP
  16. All section heads, appraisers, and examiners – Informal Entry Division, POM
  17. MICP and POM Sections 1, 9, 10, & 15 Chief Appraiser and Examiner

He said the following district collectors/officers were also mentioned, based on the information he received:

  1. Collector Jet Maronilla – MICP
  2. Collector Rhea Gregorio – POM
  3. Collector Edgar Macabeo – NAIA
  4. Collector Elvira Cruz – Cebu
  5. Collector Maritess Martin – Clark
  6. Collector Mimel Talusan – Subic
  7. Collector Reynaldo Galeno – Batangas
  8. Deputy Collector Mel Pascual – POM
  9. Captain Tikoy Guttierez – Enforcement and Security Service, MICP (deceased)

Lacson also named over 40 private individuals whom he described as alleged bribe givers or “players” in the BOC:

  1. Tina Yu
  2. Jerry Yu
  3. Manny Santos
  4. David Tan
  5. Jude Logarta
  6. Eric Yap
  7. Edvic Yap
  8. Ruben Taguba/Mark Taguba
  9. Noel Bonvalin
  10. John Paul Teves
  11. Gerry Teves
  12. Joel Teves
  13. Jan Jan Teves
  14. Ringo Teves
  15. George Tan
  16. Diogenes “Dennis” de Rama
  17. Henry Tan
  18. Bim Castillo
  19. George Wee
  20. Atty Veneer Baquiran
  21. Johnny Sy
  22. Armando “Burog” Tolentino and Ruel Tolentino
  23. “Kimberly” Gamboa
  24. Bobot Sison
  25. Marty Pimentel of Cebu
  26. A certain “Eunice” of Davao
  27. Jun Diamante
  28. Vic Reyes
  29. Gerry Yap
  30. Arnold Saulong
  31. Hope Arnulfo Saulong
  32. Boy Sabater
  33. Nero Andal
  34. Lea Cruz
  35. Aying Acuzar / Eduardo Dio
  36. Rey Tubig
  37. Ruel Sy
  38. Frank Wong
  39. Chi Men
  40. Jen Yu
  41. Grace Bisaya
  42. Arthur Tan
  43. Charlie Tan of Davao Group
  44. Anthony Ng

The “identified collectors/bagmen,” said Lacson, are the following:

  1. Atty Christopher Bolastig through Russel and Estrella, and Atty Genefielle Lagmay for the Office of the Commissioner (OCOMM)
  2. Nanie Koh for Import and Assessment Service (IAS); also included is a certain Lorna Rosario
  3. Joel Pinawin, Ollie Valiente, and Teddy Sagaral for Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS)
  4. Atty Larribert Hilario for the Risk Management Office (RMO)/Command Center (COMMCEN)
  5. A certain “Magic” or Major Salamanca for the Enforcement Group (EG)
  6. Bien Rubio, Jerry and Diego Santiago for the Intelligence Group (IG)
  7. Jasmin Obillos for Revenue Collection Monitoring Group (RCMG)
  8. Sia Otto and Roy for Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group
  9. Bien Rubio, for Intellectual Property Rights Division
  10. Atty Tom Tagra for Legal Services
  11. Boy Garcia for Accounts Management Office (AMO)
  12. A certain Mamadra, Bobadilla, and Mamao for the Customs Collector in NAIA
  13. A certain “Hunk” for the Customs Collector in Subic
  14. Efren Ambagan and a certain Guiao for the Customs Collector in Clark
  15. Alfred and Daniel Wagwag for the District Collector, POM
  16. Jun Rapa for the Deputy Collector for Operations, POM
  17. Alex, Atty Mimi Aldave, and Atty Vener Baquiran for the District Collector, MICP
  18. Jayson Calinap for X-ray at MICP
  19. Agama and Junjun Reyes for X-ray at POM
  20. Ordoña and Bundukin with a certain “Ante” as runner for the Enforcement and Security Service (ESS), MICP
  21. Lino Arroyo for the Enforcement and Security Service, POM

He also cited an “unimpeachable source” who informed him about one of the BOC officials in the list, whom the senator did not identify.

“For the period covering May 16 to June 28, 2017, Mr Customs Official’s total encashment amounted to P5,109,000,” Lacson said, indicating the amount of bribes an official can get over a period under the prevailing system.

Hope in new BOC chief

Lacson said he hoped his privilege speech would be referred to the Senate blue ribbon committee, which is investigating the shabu shipment.

He also expressed hope that the incoming Customs chief, Isidro Lapeña, will not take the same path as Faeldon.

“Mr President, I have known the newly-appointed Customs Chief, General Sid Lapeña, as an honorable man. In fact, I can personally vouch for his integrity. With his appointment as the new Customs chief, I can only hope na hindi siya kakainin ng sistema tulad ng nauna sa kanya (that he would not be swallowed by the system like his predecessor),” Lacson said.

“His highest calling at the moment is to descend to the gates of hell and destroy the brazen corruption within the country’s most corrupt government agency,” the senator added.

Lacson said to succeed in the war on corruption at the BOC, Lapeña “needs to institutionalize genuine reforms” that would lead to “the abolition of the corruption system from top officials down to the last rank-and-file in Customs.” 

The senator also called on the Duterte administration to execute its war on corruption with the same intensity as its war on drugs. – 

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