Aquino orders BOC to suspend employees and brokers tagged in smuggling activities

March 29, 2011 4:53 am 

MANILA, March 28 — President Benigno S. Aquino III ordered on Monday Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez to put under preventive suspension all Bureau of Customs (BOC) employees who have been named respondents in smuggling and other criminal complaints.

The Chief Executive made the directives to ensure that employees tagged in technical smuggling would not be able to influence the outcome of the investigation against them and to correct misconceptions that the BOC was not serious in the government’s anti-smuggling campaign.

The President wants all customs personnel who played a role in the release of smuggled products be identified, investigated and, if evidence warrants, charged both criminally and administratively.

He also tasked the agency’s Run After the Smugglers (RATS) Group to file administrative charges against customs brokers who have been accused of involvement in technical smuggling and other violations of the Customs and Tariff Code.

Alvarez had informed the President that a memorandum was already issued to Customs Deputy Commissioner and RATS executive director Gregorio Chavez.

He also assured the President that the broker’s accreditation privilege of brokers named in the smuggling activities would be suspended immediately once the complaint or charge is found by the BOC’s Legal Service to be serious and with prima facie evidence.

In a report submitted to Malacanang, Chavez revealed that a total of 12 customs employees, among them customs operations officers, examiners and document processors, activities have either been charged or recommended for inclusion in the smuggling and corruption cases that the agency has filed against errant importers.

The BOC also reported that from July 2010 up to mid- March 2011, the agency had filed 30 criminal cases before the Department of Justice. Among those who were charged were importers and brokers of firearms, illegal drugs, high-end cars, heavy equipment, rice, sugar, onions as well as steel and oil products. (PNA) DCT/FFC/PCOO/ssc

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