NBI sets ‘graft’ probe on 76 top Customs execs

August 23, 2019
Rey Leonardo ‘Jagger’ Guerrero

(Exclusive)

THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has sought the cooperation of the Bureau of Customs (NBI) as it starts its probe on at least 76 top customs officials to find out if they are involved in graft and corruption at the agency.

In a letter addressed to BoC commissioner, Rey Leonardo ‘Jagger’ Guerrero dated August 9, 2019 and coursed thru Atty. Jesus Balmores, BoC Human Resources chief, Atty. Antonio M. Pagatpat, chief of the NBI’s regional operations service, requested the BoC for copies of the officials’ PDS (personal data sheet) as well as copies of their respective SALNs (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth).

The request was formally received by the bureau last August 14.

Pagatpat added the investigation, which was approved by Department of Justice (DoJ) secretary, Menardo Guevarra, was prompted by the statement of Pres. Duterte during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 22 where the Chief Executive again expressed his displeasure over the continuing problem of corruption at the BoC.

The two separate list shown to this writer showed that among those to be probed by the NBI are, the five customs deputy commissioners— Raniel Ramiro for intelligence (IG); Teddy Raval for enforcement (EG); Edward James Dy Buco for assessment and operations (AOCG); Vener Baquiran for revenue collection (RCMG); Allan Geronimo for management information system (MISTG); and, assistant commissioner for post entry clearance (PCAG), Atty Vincent ‘Jet’ Maronilla, who is also the bureau’s current spokesperson.

Also included are the heads of the bureau’s various services and their sub-units, such as the Customs Intelligence Investigation Service (CIIS) under Dir. Jeff Tacio, the Enforcement and Security Service (ESS/Customs Police) under Dir. Yogi Ruiz, the Import Assessment Service (IAS) under Dir. Yassir Abbas and, the Legal Service under Dir. Alvin Ebreo.

Aside from the above the NBI is also seeking the records of several port district collectors to include those without any plantilla positions.

The list is separate from the 119 middle-level customs officials and frontline employees earlier submitted by the BoC to the Ombudsman for investigation on the order of Malacañang. Of this number 52 are presently under probe by the anti-graft body of which, seven were ordered dismissed from the service and another given a suspension of one year without pay.

However, the BoC Employees Association (BOCEA), in a meeting with Maronilla yesterday, lamented the union was never consulted in the preparation of the list which is now being investigated by the Ombudsman.

The union averred some of those in the list should have been exonerated based on the ongoing hearings being conducted by the bureau on the administrative cases against them. Instead, they ended up even being penalised by the Ombudsman, the union said.

Maronilla agreed to bring up the issue of creating a “grievance committee” with Comm. Guerrero where the union and the management can discuss the merits of individual cases before they are subjected to “trial by publicity”.