MANILA - Customs Commissioner John Sevilla yesterday said 16 out of the 18 Customs personnel who were probed for their suspected involvement in questionable rice importations have been slapped with administrative charges.
An investigation found that they connived with smugglers and importers in illegally bringing rice into the country.
The 18 Customs assessors and examiners were subjected to an internal investigation after their names appeared in documents showing questionable rice importations.
“The investigation on the first of the two sets of complaints is finished. We filed administrative cases against 16 out of the 18 employees,” Sevilla said.
He said one of the two employees who were not charged was able to produce import permits that supported his innocence while the other one has died.
Sevilla said the 16 employees who have been charged continue to work in the bureau.
“We will preventively suspend them if we suspect them to be doing the same thing again. So far, the importation of rice is tightly monitored so I don’t see the need for that move,” he said.
The BOC-Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) began its probe on the activities of their frontline employees last February.
An investigation is also being conducted on 64 other BOC employees who are suspected of being in cahoots with smugglers.
Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 25-2010 or the BOC Code of Conduct states that employees found to have grossly neglected their duties, falsified documents or committed grave misconduct could face penalties that range from suspension for one month and one day to six months or dismissal from service.
Meanwhile, the BOC is also investigating the activities of one of its employees, Customs operations officer III Lilibeth Macarambon, who is assigned at the Central Mail Exchange Center.
Macarambon was allegedly caught as she was about to receive grease money from customer Mary Jennifer Reyes, who was supposed to retrieve a parcel last July 8.
Reyes was claiming her parcel that contained wristbands and concert passes purchased online from Belgium.
Initial investigation showed that Macarambon told Reyes that she had to pay P16,799 in duties and taxes to expedite the release of her parcel.
This prompted Reyes to complain to Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Jessie Dellosa, who ordered the entrapment operation against Macarambon.