THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has relieved an employee caught on the Bureau of Custom’s CCTV allegedly accepting money for an “anomalous transaction” as it reminded its personnel to strictly follow anti-corruption policies.
On Wednesday, Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon called a news conference to show reporters a video clip from the closed-circuit television cameras installed in the BOC Manila office. The video showed the woman, who Faeldon initially identified as an employee of South Harbor port operator Asian Terminals Inc. (ATI), allegedly receiving money from “importers/brokers transacting and processing papers to avail of gate passes.”
The incident occurred on Monday, Faeldon told reporters.
“The employee was clearly trying to conceal her actions, signifying her knowledge of the existence of the camera,” the Customs chief said.
“Some clients claim they need to pass by various windows just to process gate passes, and revealed that they voluntarily give any amount to the ATI clerk as this has been common practice,” he added.
ATI, however, quickly issued a statement clarifying that the employee in question was not working for ATI.
“Window 1 of Room 104 of the Port of Manila Building is not an ATI office, and the individual allegedly captured in the CCTV footage is not an ATI employee,” the port operator said in a statement.
The BOC later said the woman worked for the PPA.
The PPA confirmed that employees in Room 104 are their personnel, but questioned whether or not the CCTV footage actually caught an improper act.
The PPA said cash transactions are sometimes conducted at that location, usually for the settlement of post-audit or other excess cargo-handling charges. Several customs brokers also said that they pay wharfage fees at that window.
Procedure not followed
PPA interim General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago nevertheless ordered the employee, who has not been identified, relieved pending the outcome of an investigation.
“Based on our initial investigation, our employee caught on CCTV deviated from the prescribed transaction procedures, the very reason why she’s in this mess right now,” Santiago said.
“Procedures and guidelines are put in place specifically to prevent this kind of scenario, that is why I am directing all PPA personnel not to deviate from any of our procedures in order to avoid similar instances from happening again in the future,” he added.
The PPA head said the agency is accelerating its efforts to shift to cashless transactions to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Santiago said the PPA, “will not tolerate any kind of corruption under its auspices, and [will]similarly punish to the full extent of the law its personnel that will be found guilty of any corruption.”