MANILA, Philippines - A ranking Customs official admitted yesterday being friends with suspected rice smuggler Davidson Bangayan for the past three years.
However, Ariel Nepomuceno, deputy commissioner for enforcement, said the friendship does not prevent him from seizing suspected illegal rice shipments linked to Bangayan.
“I know David Bangayan, but I have nothing to do with any of his businesses,” Nepomuceno said. “I consider him a friend except that now, after I apprehended his rice shipments that are being attributed to his company, I am not sure if the friendship is affected. But that is fine. My duty to my country and my job comes first before anything.” Nepomuceno joined the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in November 2013. ““Assuming that the rice shipments are his, I had apprehended more than 1,000 containers of rice on my first month on the job and now the consignee has charged us before the Office of the Ombudsman,” he said. Nepomuceno said Bangayan had disclaimed ownership of three firms which were reportedly consignees of shipments seized by Customs agents.
These are Starcraft International Trading, Bold Bidder Marketing and Silent Royalty.
Nepomuceno also denied news reports that he is behind the demolition job against Jesse Dellosa, deputy commissioner for intelligence group. “Regarding the demolition job, I respect DepCom Dellosa as a very senior officer and former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief,” he said. “I have nothing to do with that.” Nepomuceno belongs to Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1987 while Dellosa is from Class 1979. Dellosa believes Nepomuceno is also a target of a demolition job initiated by smugglers. He denied that the Intelligence Group and the Enforcement Group are engaged in a “turf war.”
At Malacañang, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said they will verify reports about the infighting.
“Insofar as infighting, if you’re referring to the news report about Deputy Commissioner Dellosa and Deputy Commissioner Nepomuceno, well, we have to verify with Commissioner Sunny Sevilla,” he said, referring to Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla.
Both Dellosa and Nepomuceno are new appointees of President Aquino.
Dellosa said yesterday they have noticed a shift in the schedule of giving out grease money. – With Delon Porcalla