Allegations of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) that former Customs Commissioner John Sevilla resigned because of the P3-billion contribution quota imposed on him for the campaign fund of the Liberal Party (LP) next year is not unlikely, a lawmaker said on Sunday.
According to Sen. Sergio Osmeña 3rd, it is easy for those who are in power to use the Bureau of Customs (BOC) as source of funds because it is one of the most corrupt government agencies in the country.
“There is a lot of money raised there [BOC] that instead of going to government coffers it goes to private pockets,” Osmeña said in a radio interview aired over dzBB.
UNA, in a statement last Friday said there had been talks that the BOC head is under pressure from groups who wanted to use the agency for their money-making scheme, including fund-raising for the 2016 national elections.
Navotas City (Metro Manila) Rep. Tobias Tiangco, interim president of UNA, noted a faction of the LP is the one “working in the background putting pressure on government appointees in sensitive positions to milk the government coffers in the figurative last two minutes of the Aquino administration and to contribute to its fund-raising campaign.”
Sevilla announced his resignation on April 23), citing political pressure exerted by various political personalities as one of the reasons why he decided to give up his position.
Aside from political personalities, he said he is also being pressured by the influential Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ or INC) to assign an official to a sensitive post in the BOC.
Osmeña said he finds Sevilla’s revelations not surprising but his resignation is unfortunate because he is doing well as Customs chief and Malacañang did not even try to prevent him from leaving.
The Palace, he added, should have stopped Sevilla from leaving the BoC and acted on reports that political pressure is being exerted on him.
Osmeña noted that it is easy for President Benigno Aquino 3rd to identify the individuals who were pressuring Sevilla since they are only within the President’s circle.
He said, though, he sees nothing wrong with the supposed INC pressure, and it should not be considered as political pressure.
“It is Malacañang that should be blamed since it is the one who gave in,” the senator added.
Senate President Franklin Drilon called the allegations of Tiangco as malicious lies that do not deserve any attention.
Drilon noted that such statements coming from the opposition are expected because of the approaching election season..
The Senate chief, however, said the former BoC chief should name individuals whom he claimed to have pressured him as he expressed support on a planned Senate inquiry into Sevilla’s claims.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd is planning to conduct a congressional inquiry into the revelations made by Sevilla, particularly the issue of using the BoC as a source of campaign funds for the 2016 elections.