Lawmakers on Tuesday reprimanded officials of the Bureau of Customs after documents showed that EMT Trading, a consignee linked to the entry of P6.4 billion worth of illegal drugs, was able to operate in June and July even when a suspension order took effect in May.
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair Richard Gordon said EMT Trading was supposed to be suspended from operations on May 30, five days after at least 604 kilograms of shabu hidden in cylinders were discovered in its shipments.
But in June and July, EMT Trading was able to ship goods labelled as garments and inflatable toys among others.
"Clear as day. Nahuli na, lumabas pa. Paano nangyari 'yan?" Gordon asked Customs officials.
Examiners do not have the authority to hold EMT Trading's cargo if it has been "pre-cleared" (under the Online Cargo Release System), Manila International Container Port District Collector Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla told lawmakers.
All the contents (of the June and July shipments) were examined, and were cleared of drugs, Maronilla added.
Gordon threw aside system technicalities and slammed the BOC for their supposed lack of common sense.
"Kahit ano pang sabihin niyo, basta't pumutok na 'yan ng May 25, common sense 'yan, tigil lahat yan. Common sense. Nahuli na nga yung drugs magpapalabas pa kayo sa same company? Ano ba tayo mga t***a? Are you trying to fool us? Dapat ipakulong na kayong lahat ngayon eh," Gordon said.
Customs broker Mark Taguba, who handles EMT Trading shipments, earlier claimed he gave "tara" (grease money) to Maronilla and 8 other people from the BOC to either expedite his transactions or impose lower taxes on his goods.
Aside from Maronilla, Taguba alleged that the following Customs officials pocketed bribes from him:
- Deputy Commissioner Atty. Teddy Raval
- Customs Intelligence & Investigation Services Director Neil Estrella
- Customs Intelligence & Investigation Services officer Teddy Sagaral
- Imports and Assessment Service Director Milo Maestrecampo
- A certain "Major Gutierrez" (deceased)
- A certain "Maita Acevedo"
- A certain "Jason"
He also mentioned a certain "Tita Nani" who gives him tariff codes "so we wouldn't get an alert."