• Customs workers deny smear job on official

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    THE 3,000-strong Bureau of Customs Employees Association (Bocea) denied reports that it was the source of an e-mail goading Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to investigate an employee and official of the bureau for alleged extortion.

    “It was a smear job,” Romulo Pagulayan, president of Bocea, said on Wednesday.

    In a letter to Undersecretary Ronaldo Geron of the Office of the President, Pagulayan said that, “Bocea does not condone illegal acts but it does not also persecute employees of the bureau.”

    Denounced as extortionist in the said e-mail letter were Deputy Commissioner Peter Manzano and Andy Ong, a member of the bureau’s Run after the Smugglers (RATS) program.

    Pagulayan explained that although the style of writing is similar to how Bocea writes statements of concern, there were noticeable inconsistencies in addressing Ong as head of the Revenue Collection and Monitoring Group, which Manzano actually heads, while the latter was addressed as commissioner of customs.

    “The content of such e-mail speaks for itself that it did not come from Bocea because if it is true that Bocea was the one who sent the said e-mail, all of the members of the National Executive Council [NEC] and not only the undersigned as national president will sign the same,” Pagu-layan explained.

    Pagulayan expressed belief that the letter was part of a demolition job against the group, which earlier issued a strong statement against the President’ State of the Nation Address, saying that it was “very disgraceful and humiliating.”

    According to Pagulayan, the tax efficiency performance has gone down because of various international agreements entered into by the government, which cannot be construed as inefficiency and incompetence on the part of the customs bureau.

    William B. Depasupil

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