Witness who named 'corrupt' Customs execs may lose immunity, says solon

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 08 2017 05:19 PM

Broker Mark Taguba shows a copy of a financial breakdown (payola) he gave to BOC officials amounting to P27,000.00 per container a day, before the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs during hearing on Monday regarding the seized P6.4 billion worth of smuggled shabu from China. ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A customs broker who named officials he has allegedly bribed to release shipments without inspection could lose his immunity from suit over his conflicting statements, a lawmaker said Tuesday. 

House Ways and Means Committee chairperson Dakila Carlo Cua noted that broker Mark Taguba named Import Assessment Service Director Milo Maestrecampo among those who allegedly accepted grease money, but later said he has never met the official. 

"We need to review his statements kasi may kaunting inconsistencies, mukha kasi nagbabago ang isip (there are some inconsistencies, it seems he is changing is mind). Of course, I don't want to cast judgment, hindi naman ako expert (I am not an expert). If we discover if he is being inconsistent, that is a ground to revoke [his legal immunity]," said the Quirino lawmaker.

Taguba's corruption allegation came amid two legislative inquiries into the Bureau of Customs' failure to prevent the entry of P6.4 billion worth of illicit drugs through the port of Manila last May. 

In a hearing at the House of Representatives Monday, Taguba also linked a "Davao group" that purportedly included a "vice mayor" to the drug smuggling incident. 

Taguba said it was through the Davao group that he met a "Tita Nani," who was allegedly among the officials he has bribed. 

"May sinasabi po silang Davao group. Ang pagkakaintindi ko po vice mayor... Tsismis lang naman 'yun, baka nagni-namedrop lang naman 'yun (They talked about a Davao group. In my understanding, there was a vice mayor. Those are just rumors, perhaps they're just dropping names)," Taguba said, adding that he never met the Davao group's supposed "vice mayor." 
 
Davao City Vice Mayor and presidential son Paolo Duterte was never mentioned in the hearing. 

Asked if the younger Duterte would be invited to the next House hearings, Cua said: "That depends on the statement of Mark next time, if he believes we should or not."
 
Cua, who is set to lead the hearing Wednesday, said he looks forward to listening to testimonies of other individuals tagged in the scandal. 

"Marami pang hindi natatanong eh... nandiyan pa si Richard Chen, Kenneth Dong (There are many we have not asked... There's Richard Chen, Kenneth Dong). And there seems to be a new person that link Richard and Kenneth -- a certain Mr. Lee. We also invited him," Cua said. 

"And may revelation na may isa pang Chris Bolastik from the Office of the Commissioner that tries to convince Mark to pay the 'tara' (There's a revelation that there's one Chris Bolastik from the Office of the Commissioner that tries to convince Mark to pay the 'tara'). That is a very serious allegation. Nagpa-invite na po tayo (We have invited them)," Cua said. -- Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News