MANILA, Philippines – A Bureau of Customs (BOC) official will spend at least 10 years in prison after he was found guilty of graft and corruption by the Sandiganbayan.
Lawyer Jorge Monroy, a BOC financial services director, pocketed P1.4 million from a woman who wanted to buy a car from the agency, court records show.
The Sandiganbayan 5th Division, in a 21-page decision, said Monroy violated section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code.
The BOC official was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison and was ordered to return the money he took from his victim.
A certain Juliet Lim-Co Monroy filed the case against Monroy before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Records of the case revealed that in July 2000, Monroy enticed Co to buy a vehicle confiscated by the BOC.
He claimed that since he was already a Customs director, he can buy confiscated goods at a cheaper price and sell them in the market at a higher price because he allegedly signs the contraband goods’ release papers.
Co said she agreed to purchase a Toyota Land Cruiser that Monroy priced at P1.4 million. He then asked Co to hand over P150,000 as downpayment and her sister issued a check payable to cash upon Monroy's instruction.
Three days after, Monroy told her that the vehicle’s papers had been processed and asked her to pay the remaining amount of P1.25 million in cash.
Co said the BOC official himself received and counted the money.
However, the vehicle was not released on the same day allegedly because its papers needed one more signatory.
So she was made to return the next Monday. The vehicle, however, was still not released.
She demanded an official receipt of the money she gave but all she got was an acknowledgment letter and a guarantee letter that if the vehicle was not released on July 27, 2000, Monroy will return the money.
The BOC director again failed to deliver the vehicle on the deadline. After several calls, Monroy allegedly told her, "kahit umiyak ka ng bato diyan, hindi na maibabalik ang pera mo."
He claimed that the vehicle can no longer be released because someone from his office ran off with her money.
"It was that false representation to sell the vehicle at a cheaper price coupled with Monroy's statement… that the vehicles will not be released without his signature, that more than induced Co to part with her money,” the Sandibanbayan said in its ruling.