Ombud wants cases filed vs Customs execs-A A +A
Sunday, February 3, 2013
AFTER dismissing two Customs officials and suspending two others, the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao also endorsed the filing of criminal charges against four Bureau of Customs (BOC) personnel at the Port of Davao for misdeclaring imported cargo worth more than P10 million.
The recommendation is contained in a resolution dated November 29, 2012, penned by BOC Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Marilou B. Unabia.
Unabia recommended that Anju Nereo C. Castigador, former Bureau of Immigration (BI) collector of the city, and Alicodsaman P. Dimasicil, acting assistant wharfinger, Lerrie L. Natividad and Moctar S. Amir, acting Customs examiners, be charged for violating Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 for their failure to file charges against an importing company that misdeclared several containers of rice from Thailand as construction materials.
She also recommended that broker Michael B. Corong be included in the charge sheet.
Deputy Ombudsman Humphrey T. Monteroso approved the resolution days after he upheld Unabia's resolution terminating Castigador and Dimasicil from the service and suspending Natividad and Amir for six months.
Unabia said those to be charged "conspired to grant" Rapzel General Merchandise "undue advantage and benefit," as it was "clear that the failure of respondent Castigador to file the case against Rapzel and Corong unduly benefited both the consignee company and customs broker."
The Ombudsman decision stemmed from the complaint filed by local businessman Rodolfo Reta, whose memorandum of agreement with the BOC for the operation of the Customs' designated examination area (DEA) inside the Acquarius Container Yard (ACY) owned by Reta was unceremoniously cancelled by the BOC.
The rift started when Reta refused to release 40 container vans declared to contain construction materials by its consignee Rapzel General Merchandise with an office address at Quimpo Boulevard, Davao City.
In earlier interviews, Reta said the container vans actually contain sacks of rice and not construction materials as declared. No less than this Sun.Star Davao reporter saw sacks of rice inside one of the 40 container vans when it was opened inside the ACY compound on February 26, 2010.
Each container van contains an estimated 320 bags of rice or about 12,800 bags in all.
But instead of commending Reta for the discovery of the contraband, Catigador instead ordered for the transfer of the 40 container vans from the ACY compound to the adjacent Sasa wharf on that same day. The order was only implemented two days after.
The BOC also revoked its MOA with ACY for the DEA operation because of the controversy and has since transferred the DEA at the Philippine Ports Authority compound inside the Sasa wharf.
In their defense, Castigador and the others said the collecting agency even earned P12.8 million in revenue when it auctioned off the cargo.
The Ombudsman insisted, however, that the “failure to file the criminal case by respondent Castigador against Rapzel and its representative is tantamount to giving unwarranted benefit to the latter.”
“Under the Tariff and Customs Code, Rapzel has committed a violation by misdeclaring the items it imported and it is incumbent upon the Collector of Customs to file the proper case in court against the said consignee and its representative,” it said.
The action of Castigador and his men, the resolution said, "runs counter to the government's thrust of running after smugglers."
Meanwhile, it was learned that as a result of Catigador's dismissal order, he is no longer the customs collector of Cagayan de Oro port. But it was unclear if he was already dismissed from service as ordered by the Ombudsman.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 04, 2013.