But ex-IAS Chief Maestrecampo says his unit's name was only used by ex-PMA cadets
MANILA - Customs fixer Mark Taguba on Monday said he met with former Import Assessment Services (IAS) director Milo Maestrecampo regarding a shipment with an alert order.
Taguba told lawmakers in a Blue Ribbon Committee hearing that he met with Maestrecampo and a certain "Noel" in a coffee shop in Roxas Boulevard corner UN Avenue in Manila.
"Ang nangyari po pumunta ako ng Starbucks. Nandun po si Milo at si Noel nag-uusap nung nilapitan ko po sila di ako pinansin ni Milo. Sabi lang sa 'kin ni Noel, doon ka muna kina Tita sa Yellow Cab," he said during the hearing on the P6.4-billion drug haul from China.
Although no words were exchanged between them, Taguba said he believes Maestrecampo was involved in the release of the shipment and was among Customs officials who received "tara" or bribe money.
"Kasi po kapag nagte-text ako sa kanila na nagpapaayos ako ng alert -- kasi ang alert under evaluations ng IAS -- nagfo-forward siya sa akin ng text messages which I think is from Mestrecampo," he said.
But Maestrecampo, who resigned last month after Taguba accused him of pocketing bribe money to process shipments during an investigation at the House of Representatives, said his name and that of his unit was dragged into the mess by former cadets of the Philippine Military Academy.
Maintaining that he did not know Taguba or the other personalities involved, Maestrecampo said the name of IAS was only used because of a program initiated by former Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon "to combat undervaluation."
"I can now surmise mga ex-cadet pala itong mga ito. Medyo mainit yung ulo sa akin ng mga ex-cadet ng Customs…Medyo hindi siguro nila ako nagugustuhan, assumption ko lang, because I always say no," he said.
"Anybody na pumunta sa opisina, mag-text, pag naamoy kong medyo papunta dun sa negosyo, I say no. So itong mga taong I don’t know what they do, but it’s common in Customs to use names," he added.
"I did not receive any tara, nor money whatsoever. I tried to give justice to that short stint which I occupied the position."