The Bureau of Customs (BOC) yesterday filed an administrative case at the Supreme Court against the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 1 judge due to a temporary restraining order (TRO) she granted on the case of cigarette company Mighty Corporation.
Named respondent in the case was Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag.
At a press conference at Max’s Restaurant at the Quezon Memorial Circle yesterday, Lawyer Alvin Ebreo, BOC director for legal services and head of the newly formed Bureau Action Team Against Smuggling (BATAS) said, “Our position is that Judge Alisuag showed gross ignorance of the law when she granted a TRO on the Mighty Corporation case. We are authorized by law to do our job at the BOC and that’s what we did. Our enforcement operation against contrabands is gravely hampered by the TRO she issued. This is a temporary setback but we will prevail.”
“Our no nonsense war against corruption at BOC has already claimed its first casualty, the late BOC Deputy Commissioner (Depcom) Arturo Lachica. He is a martyr and a hero for our cause. I assure you that his death, which we are investigating, will not be in vain because he has inspired us to be stronger in our resolve to fight corruption at the bureau,” Ebreo added.
Lachica was gunned down by unidentified assailants last year along España street in Manila. Initial reports suggested it was work-related.
The recent anti-corruption drive involving more than a billion pesos worth of questioned cigarette products was exposed due to the use of fake tax stamps resulting in the loss of billions of pesos in taxes due to the government.
“This is corruption looking all of us directly in the face, ” Ebreo added.
“BATAS is our concrete answer to the BOC war against corruption personified by Depcom Lachica’s untimely death. Through the newly created BATAS, the fight against smuggling and other forms of corruption at the BOC will be consolidated. We will win the war versus corruption at the BOC,” he said.
Earlier, United Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC) President Rodolfo “RJ” Javellana, Jr. revealed that Lachica was shot to dead a few hours after he received from them at the BOC the UFCC letter of complaint addressed to Customs Commisioner Nicanor Faeldon requesting the immediate issuance of an alert order on a Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) steel shipment because of a serious tariff issue.
“When we personally presented our letter of complaint for Commissioner Faeldon to Depcom Lachica last November 17, (the day Lachica was shot) he told us that the same importer, referring to Manage Resources Trading Corporation had earlier filed a case against him. He promised us that he will act immediately on our alert order request against the P500 million steel cargo shipment of MRTC to prevent it from being prematurely released pending investigation. We were the last people Lachica spoke to before he was killed,” Javellana said.