THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) has dismissed published reports last week that some P4 million in “tara” (grease money) was seized from at least two suspects last October 18 at the Port of Manila while the amount is purportedly to be “distributed” to corrupt officials and personnel of the agency.
Atty. Jett Maronilla, BoC spokesman, in a talk with this writer, said the reported amount was “simply too much and an exaggeration.”
While confirming that indeed, two suspects, a male and a female, were apprehended at the parking lot of the POM on that day, incidentally a Friday, “less than P100,000” were actually confiscated as evidence from them.
The BoC is notorious for the so-called ‘Friday habit,’ as it was on this day that “tara” is usually distributed by smugglers to their “business partners” and “protectors” inside the agency.
The practice, however, has since been stopped, past and incumbent customs officials insist.
“From my discussion with our Intelligence Group (IG) that carried out the operation, less than P100,000 were recovered as evidence and that appropriate charges have been prepared against the suspects for endorsement to the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA),” Maronilla explained.
A source from the office of IG deputy commissioner, Raniel Ramiro, who declined to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, confirmed Maronilla’s statement but added that Ramiro has also recommended for the 90-day suspension of two customs policemen for “hesitating to immediately arrest the suspects and confiscate the money.”
The names of the customs policemen however, were not provided and also those of the suspects.
The source added the ARTA is the appropriate agency to handle the case of “fixing” as the suspects are not employees of the bureau.
The source also said that contrary to the news reports, there was no video footage of the incident and that P69,000 “were the actual amount recovered.”