LAWYER Rico Rey “Koko” Holganza yesterday denied he amassed ill-gotten wealth while working as chief of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Port of Cebu.

Businessman Hans Ernest Tan Aparice III has asked the anti-graft office to probe Holganza, a former city councilor turned customs official, accusing him of living a lifestyle impossible to sustain with a government worker’s pay.

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Aparice attached pictures of Holganza’s supposed mansion and a three-story building, both in Cebu City, in his letter complaint submitted Tuesday.

He pointed out how Holganza’s Statement of Assets and Liabilities places his monthly income at P14,000. He asked that the anti-graft probers go and visit his two properties.

Aparice also questioned Holganza’s status as head of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), a unit Holganza has led for three years, while allegedly not being an organic member of the organization.

Holganza believes Aparice is a fictitious person and a pseudonym of those who want to destroy his reputation.

While Aparice alleged in his affidavit that he has a trucking and importing business, he is not in the list of the Cebu Truckers Association nor in the records of the Port of Cebu as an importer.

“If this Aparice is really non-existing and his unfounded accusation will be published in the newspaper, it will bring injustice not only to me but my entire family. This is a case of character assassination,” Holganza said.

Holganza explained that while it is true that he has a residential building on Macopa St., Barangay Basak, Cebu City, this was constructed in 1997 and 1998 or before he joined BOC.

He said the property in Bantayan is owned by the entire Holganza family.

“As you very well know, my late mother and the family owned more than 100 hectares of land in Bantayan. That’s not a secret. Is it a sin to inherit properties from my deceased mother?” Holganza said.

On the alleged mansion in Sto. Niño Village, Holganza said he has no idea about it.

“I don’t own such property. I live simply and I have done nothing wrong in public service,” said Holganza, a one-time number one councilor of Cebu City. He also ran as congressman but lost in the 1998 elections.

Holganza is the son of Ribomapil Holganza Sr., who was imprisoned during Martial Law.

Holganza, who was in Manila, said he doesn’t know the alleged complainant, who only gave Subangdaku, Mandaue City as his address.

“Subangdaku is too big to trace if this Aparice really exists. I hope the Office of the Ombudsman will look if this person is real before responding to the unfounded accusation,” Holganza said.

He also appealed to the media to spare him from black propaganda of unscrupulous persons because he has a family reputation to protect.

“Anybody can accuse anybody. Even if the case will be dismissed, of which I’m sure, as these are lies, the damage has been done by mere publication of the false accusation,” Holganza said.

Aparice, who pointed out that Holganza joined the customs bureau as a legal officer, said CIIS officials are wondering why the official heads the department.

“The issues create a great void insofar as public service is concerned, with several ‘organic members’ of the CIIS feeling demoralized and openly saddened,” Aparice claimed. (EOB/KNR)