• Two Customs commissioners wage ‘war’

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    A messy “proxy war” is going on between two Aquino-appointed top officials at the graft-ridden Bureau of Customs (BOC) with both camps accusing each other of alleged corruption.

    The animosity between the office of Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group (IG) Jessie Dellosa and Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement Group (EG) Ariel Nepomuceno started when a certain Lamberto Lopez filed a graft case before the Ombudsman against IG personnel, Capt. Jovily Cabading and Jarvis Cinches.

    Lopez represented himself as an administrative officer of Cebu-based firm 88 Circle Trading whose shipment of three container vans of G.I. wires have been held by the Port of Cebu pursuant to an alert order issued by Dellosa.

    In his complaint-affidavit, Lopez, alleged that in order to facilitate the release of their shipment, he gave P450,000 or P150,000 per container in grease money to Cinches and Cabading during a March 11 meeting at the lobby of a hotel in Manila.

    “I asked [Cinches and Cabading] when our shipment would be released, [Cinches and Cabading] told me that it would released the following days, as there were still some documents that they had to prepare in relation thereto,” he said.

    But Lopez said the promised release of their shipment did not happen and Cinches and Cabading were not answering his calls and text messages.

    On March 13, he added, he finally received a call from Cinches telling him that their case was complicated because other offices in the BOC were already aware of the shipment. Lopez claimed that Cinches asked him to pay P150,000 per container to keep other customs officials silent.

    With his job at stake, Lopez said he offered to pay P9,000 which he would be paying from his own pocket as it would be impossible to get even a peso more from the owners or from his boss, but Cinches allegedly told him that “there’s nothing that he could do” and just call if he had already the money.

    Dellosa, in an interview, told The Manila Times that somebody “from inside” in connivance with people from the outside, referring to importers and brokers, orchestrated the filing of graft charges to besmirch his office.

    “The documents came from inside, meaning that somebody from within is leaking them as smugglers and players have a lot of contacts inside,” he added.

    Dellosa said that his office has been a bane of smugglers because he has put a stop to all the corrupt practices in the bureau, such as the “tara” or grease money.

    The IG also presented a certification from Aizil Amacna, the registered owners of 88 Circle Trading, denying that he has an employee or administrative officer with the name of Lamberto Lopez.

    The IG, through the help of the National Bureau of Investigation, was able to locate Lopez, whose middle name is Montalaba, not Mancera, as he indicated in his complaint-affidavit with the Ombudsman.

    Lopez subsequently filed an affidavit recanting his earlier complaint, saying that he was paid to do so by a certain Geni Agco, who, in turn, took his orders from Jeff Patawan, who serves as consultant to Nepomuceno.

    “The very purpose of such false accusations against some Bureau of Customs personnel from the Intelligence Group were solely to make a demolition job and remove the group of Gen. Dellosa from the Bureau of Customs in order for the group of Geni Agco manipulate all the illegal transactions in the Bureau,” Lopez stated in the said affidavit.

    It was also learned that Lopez was a former personnel of the defunct Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) where Patawaran served as the chief of staff of then PASG chief Antonio Villar.

    Sources have also told The Times that Cinches, the IG employee, was also formerly connected with PASG, which, the source pointed out, has further complicated the whole scenario.

    Patawaran, for his part, told The Times that he does not know Lopez nor ordered somebody to file a complaint against the IG personnel.

    “I have already consulted with my lawyer and we will file a case next week against the IG personnel,” he added.

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