DOJ orders probe of alleged Customs corruption


Posted at Jul 27 2019 03:04 PM | Updated as of Jul 27 2019 03:37 PM

MANILA - Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into alleged corruption at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), days after President Rodrigo Duterte spoke about the matter in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

In Department Order No. 383 dated July 26, Guevarra ordered the NBI to "conduct a thorough investigation and case buildup on the alleged graft and corrupt practices in the Bureau of Customs," as the President had cited in his SONA. 

It also directed the NBI to "file appropriate charges against persons found responsible therefore" if it finds evidence of corruption. 

In his report to the nation on Monday, Duterte said the BOC had managed to collect P585 billion in 2018, but added it could have generated higher revenues if there was no corruption. 

"Imagine how much more could have been collected had the BOC been clean and less corrupt," Duterte said in his speech. 

Recently, more than 60 Customs officials were relieved over alleged corruption. The agency has long been plagued by allegations of wrongdoing, with contraband- including billion-peso drug shipments- passing through port inspections. 

On Thursday, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who earlier bared anomalies at the bureau, said Customs chief Rey Guerrero should ask the President for blanket authority to cleanse the bureau. 

Duterte named Guerrero, a former armed forces chief of staff, to the bureau's helm in October last year amid a multibillion-peso drug smuggling controversy under Isidro Lapeña. 

He also removed all commissioners and department heads.