Fixer Taguba claims paying Customs P92M in bribes

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 25 2017 02:56 PM

Customs fixer Mark Taguba shows his Powerpoint presentation during the probe of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the P6.4 billion shabu shipment from China. George Calvelo, ABS CBN News

MANILA - Fixer Mark Taguba told senators Monday he shelled out around P92 million to bribe Customs officials to facilitate the release of shipments at the graft-ridden bureau.

Taguba walked the Senate blue ribbon committee through the bribery scheme called “tara” system, showing copies of phone call logs, text messages, bank documents and a breakdown of money allegedly given to specific Customs officials.

From March 27 to 31 and April 3 to 7 this year, he said his consignee, EMT Trading, paid P489,600 in bribes distributed among 12 Customs offices for 18 containers.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said corrupt Customs officials benefited from up to 3 levels of bribery, the last of which was the issuance of a “special stop order.” He said only the commissioner could issue such an order.

Reacting to Faeldon, who had filed an ethics complaint against him, Lacson told reporters: “I’m really obsessed to really pin him down and prove that there’s corruption and he’s really involved in corruption.”

“Saksakan ng yabang, saksakan ng ipokrito.”

(He's such an arrogant hypocrite.)

Lacson earlier alleged Faeldon had received P100 million in “welcome gift” when he assumed the Customs post.

The senator said he would file a criminal complaint against Faeldon before the Ombudsman on Thursday in connection with rice smuggling.

“He’s been asking for it. Then we’re giving it to him,” the senator said.

Taguba said a certain Mae collected bribe money for the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) then headed by Director Neil Estrella.

To prove his allegation, Taguba showed a text message from Mae about a “reminder” from Customs intelligence officer Joel Pinawin of the money due to Estrella.

Pinawin told senators there was a certain Mae Escueto working at the CIIS, but he denied instructing her to collect money for him and Estrella.

“Mr. Pinawin, you’re under oath, I’m reminding you. Pag na confront ka ng susunod na slide, malalaman na nagsisinungaling ka ngayon,” Lacson reminded him.

Taguba then showed a copy of phone call logs with Pinawin during that two-week period. It showed Pinawin’s supposed phone number and the duration of calls.