The Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement Group of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has been removed from his post pending results of an ongoing investigation of a graft case for alleged extortion filed before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon issued an order dated November 2 that was released only on Thursday on the dismissal of Arnel Alcaraz.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that he wants a corrupt official out of the Customs bureau.
Major Isabelo Tibayan 3rd of the Customs Police was named acting Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) chief in a temporary capacity.
“I want him suspended immediately. I have to communicate with the chief, [Faeldon]…. [He must be (sacked) and investigated. These people in government are becoming abusive],” Duterte said on Tuesday.
The President did not name names but it was obvious that he was referring to Alcaraz who, among the six BOC deputy commissioners, was the only who has a pending case before the NBI.
“We are assuming [that it was Alcaraz]because we have not received any other formal charges against the other deputy commissioners. So since [his name was mentioned by the President], it is safe to assume that he was referring to him,” Faeldon’s chief of staff Mandy Anderson told reporters.
The BOC is working with the NBI to gather affidavits of complainants and evidence for the investigation.
“[No complaint against Mr. Alcaraz has reached us yet]. So we will be working hand-in-hand with the NBI to get whatever complaint was filed, and then we will initiate administrative investigation against him accordingly,” Anderson said.
The Manila Times learned from a highly-placed source that the case against Alcaraz was filed before the NBI-National Capital Region (Metro Manila) Office.
The complaint is being investigated by NBI Special Investigator Gary Ruiz.
The complainants alleged that they were asked to shell out P5,000 for every container after their shipment was issued an alert order by Alcaraz.
The source said the alert order has no “bar code” and thus void, adding that “Alcaraz also violated the order of Faeldon that alert orders should have prior clearance and approval from the command center headed by Faeldon.”
When asked for comment, Alcaraz politely refused to explain his side.
“Kuya, di ako puede magsalita pa. Pero kilala mo naman pagkatao ko [Brother, I can’t speak further. But you know my upbringing],” Alcaraz said in a text message to The Manila Times.
Alcaraz, a lawyer, headed the enforcement group as officer-in-charge.
He has been with the bureau for nearly two decades and has served in various positions.
Records show that Alcaraz has no pending case before the Ombudsman.
Customs sources said Alcaraz has stepped into the toes of some brokers who are allegedly well-connected with the so-called Davao group.
Another highly placed source at the bureau told The Manila Times that former Deputy Commissioner Ariel Nepomuceno will take over next week his old post as head of the enforcement group.
“His [Nepomuceno] appointment has already been signed by Malacañang. He will be back next week,” the source said.
Nepomuceno served as deputy commissioner for the enforcement group during the Aquino administration.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL