Customs Watch! In focus: Citric Acid Industry

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Customs Intelligence Officer Dismissed for Unexplained Wealth

Penalized for falsification and perjury by misdeclaring SALN.

Marissa Rae Rollo Galang, Intelligence Officer II and Acting Chief of the Bureau of Customs-Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, was dismissed from her duties by the Office of the Ombudsman last 28 October 2014 after being found to have violated Republic Act. No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and Republic Act No. 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Indicted on seven (7) counts of perjury and found guilty of serious dishonesty and grave misconduct, Galang was proven to have falsified her Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) to conceal ill-gotten wealth. Her assets, including real estate and personal properties, travels and expenses, were all disproportionate to the legitimate income she was earning in the government service.

Claiming to have legitimate businesses to have other sources of income supplementing her government salary, Galang’s incongruent defense did not add up to the figures representing the expenses she incurred. In one of the more notable arguments for her defense, Galang claimed to having earned income as a franchisee of Mitsukoshi products. As Mitsukoshi is a major Japanese international department store and would have issued corresponding documents to franchisees, Galang’s failure to provide any of the kind to the Office of the Ombudsman makes her alibi completely fictitious.

Declaring fictitious businesses in her SALN constitutes perjury and willful intent to conceal the truth of her wealth and high-expense lifestyle. Further, she was found to be guilty of simple dishonesty, as she was discovered to have falsified her Daily Time Record (DTR) to reflect time in the office when she was clearly on vacation in the Republic of Palau, as proved by a flight manifest presented to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Galang was meted the penalty of dismissal from the service, with accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service. A petition for forfeiture will also be filed to recover Galang’s ill-gotten wealth of around P2,374,520.07.

This dismissal represents yet another mark of success the Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) program of the Department of Finance has enjoyed since 2010. The RIPS program investigates and recommends for prosecution and eventual dismissal corrupt and or erring public officials.

As of 30 September 2014, RIPS has filed cases against two hundred and twenty six (226) respondents since its inception in 2003. Of these, eighty (80) personalities were charged before the Office of the Ombudsman during the current administration, while twenty eight (28) personalities were charged before the Civil Service Commission (CSC), and five (5) personalities were referred to the concerned agency for filing of formal charge.



Customs employee nabbed in entrapment operation after extortion try

In its continuous effort to rid itself of scalawags in its ranks, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) led an entrapment operation against one of its employees who’s trying to extort money from two student-trainees of a brokerage firm.

In an entrapment operation led by the Bureau’s Intelligence Group (IG) last Wednesday, November 12, a 12-year Customs employee Aristotle Tumala was nabbed after receiving P7,000 in marked money from two student-trainees who are seeking the release of tax-exempt imports of Panay Power in the Port of Iloilo. The trainees are graduating students who are taking up BS Customs Administration and are doing internship at a licensed brokerage firm as part of their on-the-job training course.

When the two trainees went to Tumala who is working at the office of the Tax-Exempt Division as administrative aide for the processing and releasing the endorsement for release of the shipment, Tumala allegedly said there is a problem with their papers and ‘kailangan ng ulo ng aso’. Sensing that the ‘ulo ng aso” was a bribe Tumala was asking for so they asked how much, to which Tumala allegedly said P7,000.

The trainees then reported the incident to the IG officials led by Customs Deputy Commissioner Jessie Dellosa. The entrapment operation was quickly mobilized by Dellosa together with Customs Director Willie Tolentino and the suspect was immediately apprehended after receiving the marked money. Tumala is now facing criminal and administrative charges.

“We are doing this to rid the Customs of the culture of corruption that has plagued the Bureau and to show that we mean business in reforming the BOC. This is also to show everybody especially these students that there is no room for corruption in the Bureau of Customs. You may thrive now or get away with your extortion activities but we will still get you in the end,” Dellosa said.

“We commend these students for their bravery, courage and integrity. With their full cooperation, we were able to catch this erring employee with his extortion attempt. We look forward to working with them as licensed Customs brokers who we know will live by a code of honesty, professionalism, and integrity,” Dellosa added.

According to brokers, ‘ulo ng aso’ is a code word for money because of a small design feature on the upper left portion of the P1,000 bill resembling the head of a dog.



Smuggling raps filed against illegal rice trader

Collector Datu Samson  Pacasum from Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Mindanao Container Terminal swears by his Complaint-Affidavit against rice trader Medaglia de Oro Trading for the illegal importation of rice. Looking on are (from left) Collector Ricardo Butalid, Jr, BOC-Port of Davao; Deputy Commissioner Maria Edita Tan; Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla; Collector Roberto Almadin, BOC-Port of Cebu; and Collector Mario Mendoza, BOC-Port of Manila. Medaglia De Oro faces a total of five smuggling-related cases for importing over 16 Metric Tons of rice in 2013

Collector Datu Samson Pacasum from Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Mindanao Container Terminal swears by his Complaint-Affidavit against rice trader Medaglia de Oro Trading for the illegal importation of rice. Looking on are (from left) Collector Ricardo Butalid, Jr, BOC-Port of Davao; Deputy Commissioner Maria Edita Tan; Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla; Collector Roberto Almadin, BOC-Port of Cebu; and Collector Mario Mendoza, BOC-Port of Manila. Medaglia De Oro faces a total of five smuggling-related cases for importing over 16 Metric Tons of rice in 2013

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) filed smuggling-related complaints against the owner of Medaglia De Oro Trading and nine Licensed Customs Brokers for importing rice without the required import permit from the National Food Authority (NFA). The move is part of the agency’s drive to thwart the illegal entry of imported rice into the country.

Four separate complaints were filed by BOC Acting District Collectors Mario Mendoza of the Port of Manila; Roberto Almadin of the Port of Cebu; Ricardo Butalid, Jr. of the Port of Davao; and Datu Samson Pacasum of the Mindanao Container Terminal in Misamis Oriental against Emmanuel Santos, owner and proprietor of Medaglia De Oro, along with the firm’s customs brokers: Denise Kathryn Rosaroso, Raquel Sildora Cabasag, Emilio Chio, Myrene Noynay Sollano, Gemma Garcia, Melvin Isagan, John Kevin Cisneros, Eduardo Borje III, and Kenneth Quial. A fifth case against Medaglia De Oro will be filed by BOC Acting District Collector Elmir Dela Cruz of the Manila International Container Port On Friday (November 14) against Santos and customs brokers Rosemarie Sangalang Arciaga And Baltazar Ramirez. The charges stem from rice importations of Medaglia De Oro totaling over 16.039 Metric Tons (more than 16.039-Million kilograms) from Thailand and Singapore in July and August 2013 through Manila, Cebu, Davao and Misamis Oriental. The firm’s rice imports have a total dutiable value of more than P205-Million and an estimated market value of over P641-Million.

The 12 face multiple counts of violating Section 3601 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP) and Section 29 of Presidential Decree (PD) Number 4, as amended by P.D. No. 1485. Each count of violating Section 3601 of the TCCP carries a maximum punishment of ten years imprisonment and a fine of P50,000; while violation of P.D. No. 4 is levied a maximum penalty of four years imprisonment and a fine of P8,000.00 per count.

Medaglia De Oro earlier told the NFA that private importers can import rice without securing a permit, citing the expiration of quantitative restrictions on rice imports to the Philippines under the World Trade Organization in 2012. However, Philippine laws state that only the NFA can import rice, mandating public companies who wish to do the same to secure from the NFA the import permit. The NFA regulates rice imports through quotas, preventing excessive and unquantifiable amounts of rice, to ensure fair competition and viability of the local rice industry.

Based on records of the NFA, Medaglia De Oro neither applied nor was granted any import permit or allocated import quota.

“Rice is a regulated commodity not only because it is our staple food but also a source of livelihood for 2.4-Million farming households. Any sudden surges in imported rice would have catastrophic consequences on millions of farmers and our agriculture industry. It is for these reasons why the Philippine government has been requesting for special treatment of rice imports under the WTO for the past several years,” said Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla.

In 2013, the Department of Agriculture reported 96% rice sufficiency of the country, equivalent to 18.44-Million metric tons.



Customs Watch! In focus: Glucose Syrup Industry (Part 2)

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Authorities seize anti-anxiety drugs

Officials from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) led by (3rd to 5th from left, respectively) BOC-Enforcement and Security Service Director Willie Tolentino, BOC-Ninoy Aquino International Airport District Collector Willie Tolentino and PDEA National Capital Region Director Jacquelyn De Guzman inspect caplets of anti-anxiety drug Alprazolam that illegally arrived in the country via air parcel from Pakistan

Officials from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) led by (3rd to 5th from left, respectively) BOC-Enforcement and Security Service Director Willie Tolentino, BOC-Ninoy Aquino International Airport District Collector Willie Tolentino and PDEA National Capital Region Director Jacquelyn De Guzman inspect caplets of anti-anxiety drug Alprazolam that illegally arrived in the country via air parcel from Pakistan

The Bureau of Customs, in partnership and cooperation with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, seized two “balikbayan boxes” filled with 8,152 unbranded blister packs, or a total of 81,529 caplets of Alprazolam. The drug, used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, has an estimated market value of at least P2-Million.

The shipment arrived from Pakistan via Emirates Air Flight EK 332 last June 30, 2014. It was sent by a certain Iqra Garments to a Jasmen Tameyo, with address at Garden City, Parañaque. It was declared as “food supplement.” Operatives from PDEA and BOC waited for someone to claim the boxes but these were never claimed by the consignee or a designated representative.

The Alprazolam caplets have been turned-over to PDEA. Follow-up operations are on-going to determine whether this seized shipment has a connection to past apprehensions of illegal and dangerous drugs sent through air parcels.

Last October, BOC operatives intercepted a parcel mailed from the United States containing 268 pills suspected of sildenafil citrate, a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction that was mailed last January 6, 2014 to a certain Angelica Amor Vasquez with address at 171 Gomez Street, Barangay Addition Hills, San Juan City.

“By law, Alprazolam is a prohibited drug. Not everyone can import this and you need a special permit to do so. Following a series of illegal drugs seized in mail parcels, we are stepping-up our coordination with PDEA, the Philippine Postal Corporation and the express couriers to thwart attempts to smuggle prohibited and illegal drugs through the mail,” said BOC-Enforcement and Security Service Director Willie Tolentino.

Republic Act 9165, or The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 prohibits the delivery, distribution and transportation of any dangerous drugs. It likewise penalizes any person who delivers, gives away to another, distributes or transports any controlled precursor and essential chemical or who acts as a broker in such transactions, unless he or she is authorized by law.



Customs thwarts attempt to sneak in P28-M in Postal Money Order via mail parcel

Customs officials led by Norsarem Raymond Mama-o, PSI Deputy Collector; Felipe Regencia Jr., Customs Examiner; and Joel Pinawin, OIC-NAIA Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service inspect the seized mail parcel of US postal money orders amounting to P28-Million.

Customs officials led by Norsarem Raymond Mama-o, PSI Deputy Collector; Felipe Regencia Jr., Customs Examiner; and Joel Pinawin, OIC-NAIA Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service inspect the seized mail parcel of US postal money orders amounting to P28-Million.

Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) seized a mail parcel from Africa which was declared as ‘letters and cards’ but actually contained over 600 pieces of United States Postal Money Order amounting to around P28-Million.

Customs officers opened a mail parcel containing 651 pieces of US postal money orders with a total value of US$631,470 that was mailed via Fedex courier delivery service last October 22, 2014 from Togo, a country located in West Africa.

The parcel arrived in the country last November 3, 2014 and was consigned to a certain John Secada Matters whose address was listed at Unit 710 Ferrous Bel Air Tower, 30 Polaris Street, Makati City. Each of the 651 pieces of postal money order has the same US$970 value and doesn’t bear any name or address.

The Customs Intelligence Group placed the shipment under an Alert Order after receiving a tip from French Customs officials who inspected the package upon its arrival in France en route to the Philippines. Because the package is not addressed to a French national, the French Customs allowed the package to travel to the Philippines but not before alerting the BOC-NAIA, providing the air flight number and the Air Bill reference so the parcel can be intercepted upon arrival.

The shipment was seized as it constitutes a violation of Section 2503 in relation to Section 2530 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines for misdeclaration of its content as well as violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act or Central Bank Circular 1389 as amended by Circular No. 98 Series of 1995. Customs officers will allow the proper authorities to inspect the postal money orders to verify if it is authentic or fake.

““Time and again, the continued vigilance of our enforcement and intelligence unit has proven effective. We will not stop in our active operations. We routinely conduct inspection operations on arriving and departing international flights, including air cargo, and intercepts currency, narcotics, weapons, counterfeit merchandise, prohibited agriculture products or other illicit items,” said Edgar Macabeo, District Collector for BOC-NAIA. “All balikbayan box or postal parcels arriving in the country are subject to Customs inspection and may be charged with corresponding duties and taxes.“

“We would like to reassure the public of our continued vigilance in monitoring all mail, parcels, and packages coming in and out of the country especially during this holiday season,” Macabeo added.



Customs Watch! In Focus: Glucose Syrup Industry

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