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‘Stop payment of LTO plate supplier’

CFTTC urges Tugade:

THE ‘Coalition for Trade and Commerce’ (CFTTC) is urging Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade to order a stop to the payment of imported aluminum blank plates from the Netherlands placed by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) that the group alleged was allowed to be released by the Bureau of Customs despite being grossly undervalued and resulted to millions of losses to the government.

In a letter dated February 8, 2021 and received by Tugade’s office on February 11, Zaldy Espartero, coalition director, said that last February 4, 2021, he filed a complaint for violation of several provisions of RA 10863 (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act) against the importer of the controversial plates, Annabele Arcilla Margaroli, purported owner of ‘PPI-JKG Philippines,’ her customs broker, Chia Mae Devonport and, Marinus Harinck, Supplier/Shipper (J. Knieriem BV).

Also charged for allegedly violating the provisions of the CMTA were Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero; Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence, Raniel Ramiro; Manila International Container Port (MICP) district collector, Romeo Allan Rosales; Marlonfritz Broto, deputy chief of staff to Guerrero; Yasser Ismael Abbas, director, Import Assessment Service (IAS);

Leonardo de la Peña Jr – Principal Appraiser, Section 9 MICP; Sabjulna Ofilan, Examiner, Section 9, MICP; and, Ana Lisa Protomartir – Assistant Appraiser, Section 9, MICP.

They were also accused of violating RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices.

The case centered on the release last month by the BOC of 17 containers of aluminum sheets to PPI-JKG that were supplied by J. Knierim BV and for use in the issuance of vehicle plates to motor vehicle owners. The shipment arrived at the MICP in October 2020.

Espartero said the market value of the shipment is P21 million per container as this is the actual price paid by the LTO to PPI-JKG. He claimed the accused customs officials allegedly deprived the government of its rightful interest and ownership over these containers which have a market value of P357 million.

It is grossly appalling, glaringly unscrupulous and blatantly corrupt that while the aluminum sheets are sold to LTO at P21.5 million per container, the importer only declared a value of P2.6 Million per container for tax and duty computation,” he said.

Customs officials willfully and maliciously violated the provision of Section 701 of the CMTA by merely accepting the value declared by the importer as the transaction value and basis for its valuation for the shipments while they fully know the relationship of the seller and the buyer,” Espartero said in his complaint affidavit to the NBI.

He estimated government revenue losses for the questioned release by the BOC of the shipment at P30 million.

Espartero added that a separate investigation conducted by the Investigation Division of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS-ID) last December 18, 2020, had recommended the seizure of all containers covered by six customs entries for gross undervaluation and use of ‘falsified and fictitious” commercial invoices.

Espartero was a former middle-level official at the BOC during the Aquino administration assigned at the Intelligence Group, which is now under Ramiro.

He added he is motivated in filing the complaint in support of Pres. Duterte’s campaign against corruption in government.

His group, headed by Antonio Mercado, is a non-stock, non-profit organization that “aims to expose, fight and stop all forms of corruption in government and the business community,” Espartero added.