Suspects in 641 ‘missing’ containers charged

Gov’t loses P500M in revenues – Maronilla.

THE Bureau of Customs’ Action Team Against Smugglers (BATAS) yesterday filed smuggling charges against several individuals allegedly involved in the illegal release--and subsequent “disappearance”--of 641 containers last year at the Port of Manila (POM) before the Department of Justice.

According to the committee’s report, recommended to be charged under the provisions of Republic Act (RA 10863) or the ‘Customs Modernisation and Tariff Act’ are Myra Doce, owner of ‘MMD Logistics,’ a freight forwarding company and her employees, John Derrick Mendoza and John Adam Derain; Lorenz Mangaliman, customs broker; Tomas N. Orola, president, Orophil Shipping; Elizabeth Salabas, officer; Eliseo Montaces, Orophil operations manager; and, Cyril Isaig Go, “processor.”

Respondents were alleged to have violated Section 1401 (unlawful importation/exportation), Section 1403 (other fraudulent practices against Customs) in relation to Section 1430 of the law.

Depending on the extent of the violation and amount involved, the violations carry the maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of  P50 million.

On the part of the BOC, recommended to be charged also for smuggling and for administrative offence are former Informal Entry Division (IED) chief, Gliceria Umandap; and, customs examiner, Mimosa Maghanoy.

Two more customs officials,  former Port of Manila (POM) district collector, Atty. Erastus Sandino ‘Dino’ Austria and former POM deputy collector for assessment, Florante Ricarte are also facing an administrative charge for neglect of duty.

At a media briefing yesterday, incoming Bureau spokesperson, Atty. Jett Maronilla, said their investigation disclosed that 641 containers declared as ‘ship spares in transit’ were manually released at the IED-POM between March 28 to August 6, 2018 involving all the accused.

Maronilla also disclosed the released shipments “most likely” involved “high value items” like sugar, rice and cigarettes.
He placed the foregone revenue to the government at more than P500 million.

As a presidential appointee, the case of Austria has been turned over the Presidential Anti Corruption Commission (PACC), which was created by Duterte to probe all cases of corruption involving all his appointees.

Austria on Wednesday was ordered transferred to the Port of Davao by Comm. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, who last February ordered an in-depth probe into the incident.