THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) under the watch of former commissioner Nicanor Faeldon came up with a system that will enable them to collect “tara” (payoff) more than once, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Monday.
At the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon committee investigation on the “payola” system, Lacson said that aside from the usual payoff by brokers to have their shipment pass through the green lane, a special stop order could also be issued by the office of the commissioner to prevent the release of the shipment.
“Meron yung tinatawag ko na doble tara ng doble kara. Nagtara na, napunta sa green lane, na-process na. Tatarahan pa ulit sa pamamagitan ng special stop orders,(there is what we call the double payoff for the two-faced. After giving payola to access the green lane, another payoff will be made for the lifting of a special stop order),” Lacson said.
Faeldon denied the existence of the “tara” system which Lacson revealed in his privilege speech.
Lacson said corruption in Customs existed because Faeldon allowed it.
The special stop order, according to Lacson, was introduced during Faeldon’s stint at the BOC and the order could only be issued by the office of the commissioner.
Lawyer Arnel Alcaraz, Customs collector V, told the committee that the special stop order was a discretionary power of the commissioner.
Liza Sebastian, a collector assigned at the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, also noted that the special stop orders were issued to prevent the release of shipments even after duties and taxes have been paid.
“Special alert order can still be issued even after the lifting of the alert order if violation were found, upon the recommendation of any of the alerting units,” Sebastian added.
Alerting units include the Deputy commissioner, intelligence group and deputy commissioner on enforcement group.
But Lacson, based on information he obtained, said a certain Michael Saban, a technical consultant at the office of Faeldon was able to issue a number special stop orders on several shipments and were approved by the them commissioner.
Lacson asked Sebastian if a technical consultant like Saban was authorized to recommend or issue special stop orders. Sebastian said he wasn’t.
The senator then asked BOC command center head Gerardo Gambala as to why Saban was allowed to make recommendations, which Faeldon approved, even if he was not authorized to do it.
“Yan po ang hindi ko maintindihan sa status ni (that is what I do not understand with the status of) Michael Saban, because he as a technical consultant,” Gambala said.
Lacson said the anomalous system at the bureau would only exist if the officials of BOC were benefitting from it.