Customs broker Mark Taguba on Monday identified 11 Customs officials who allegedly received bribe money from him.
At the resumption of the congressional probe on the entry of P6.4 billion worth of illegal drugs into the country, Taguba claimed that the P26,000 bribe for the release of one container were divided among Customs Intelligence chief Neil Estrella, director Milo Maestrecampo of the Import and Assessment Service, Deputy Commissioner Teddy Raval and District Collector Vincent Philip Maronilla and others under the aliases Jason, Maita from the formal entry division of the bureau, Jojo, Jake, Sandra, and Alfred.
Taguba told lawmakers that P2,000 is allotted for the Intelligence Group unit, P3,000 for the port collector, P500 for the Intelligence and Investigation Services director, P500 for the Intelligence and Investigation Services district collector, P500 for the commander of the Enforcement and Security Service District, P500 for the Enforcement and Security Service port collector, P1,000 for the xray personnel, P200 for the Peer Inspection Division, P500 for the Formal Entry Division, P10,000 for the Import Assessment Service and P7,500 for the Section service.
Taguba said about 10,000 shipments passed through the Bureau of Customs every day.
“The money is for fast tracking the documents needed for the shipment [clearance],” he said in Filipino.
Those accused by Taguba vehemently denied receiving bribes.
“I have not met Mr. Taguba prior to this meeting. I have not talked by phone or in person to Mr. Taguba,” Raval said.
Taguba claimed that he dealt with a certain Gerry from Raval’s office.
“I’m not receiving money from anybody; I am content with my salary. When I go back to the Customs I will step down from my post. I will subject myself to any investigation. I am probably a rebel but I’m not a thief,” Maestrecampo fumed. He said he does not know Taguba.
Maronilla admitted having met Taguba but denied receiving bribes from him. He added that he did not authorize anyone to accept anything for the District Collector office.
Maestrecampo was one of 20 former Magdalo soldiers hired by Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon last year. Faeldon and Maestrecampo took control of the Oakwood hotel in Makati City in 2003 in a mutiny against the Arroyo administration.
During the inquiry, it was also learned that Richard Tan, the owner of the warehouse where the P6.4 billion worth of smuggled shabu was seized, was missing.
“We invited Mr. Tan to come here today, but unfortunately he cannot be located,” Rep. Ace Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, said.
This prompted House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas to train his guns on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Fariñas grilled Catherine Nolasco of the NBI, who admitted that the NBI did not arrest Tan because Customs officials informed them that Tan was an informant.
“He is the owner of the warehouse where the P6.4 billion of drugs was found. So what if he is an informant? He is a suspect. You should have arrested him,” Fariñas said.
“The raid was conducted on May 26, and yet no charges have been filed against him until now,” he added.