3 Customs execs suspended over entry of melamine-laced milk

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 20 2010 12:30 PM | Updated as of Sep 20 2010 08:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Office of the Ombudsman has preventively suspended 3 officials of the Bureau of Customs for their alleged links to the importation of melamine-tainted milk.

In a 9-page order, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez said the continued stay of Customs Operations Officers Emmanuel Reyes, Akmad Noor and Dante Crisostomo “during pendency of the administrative adjudication can affect the disposition of this case considering their positions…”

They will be suspended without pay.

The 4, along with 11 other officials and private individuals, are undergoing preliminary investigation following the criminal and administrative charges filed by the Field Investigation Office (OMB-FIO) in August.

The latter said the Customs officials “failed to verify the correspondence of the Certificate of Product Registration with the Sales Invoice and Bill of Lading for Jolly Cow (Slender) High Calcium Low Fat Milk prior to its release.”

The Bureau of Food and Drugs revealed that the Jolly Cow brand had traces of melamine, which is hazardous to human health.

Melamine is a chemical used in manufacturing plastic products. China recorded several infant deaths after several companies had used the chemical to bolster the protein levels in their milk.

Crisostomo was the examiner tasked to conduct documentary and physical examination of the goods for proper collection of customs duties and taxes.

The findings of Crisostomo went for review to Noor, the Principal Customs Examiner. Their findings were transmitted to Reyes, the Principal Customs Appraiser.

OMB-FIO said the officers “caused the entry into the country of Jolly Cow Slender High Calcium Low Fat Milk without requiring the Certificate of Product Registration.”

If found guilty, the respondents will be charged with Unlawful Importation under Sec. 3601 and Commission of Statutory Offenses of a Customs Officer under Sec. 3604 in relation to Sec. 1403 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines; as well as violation of Sec. 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

The public respondents are also facing administrative charges for Gross Neglect of Duty, Grave Misconduct, Inefficiency and Incompetence in the performance of official duties and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.