At a Glance: Sen. Lacson’s Complaint Before the Ombudsman
September 28, 2017
The complaint stemmed from the entry of rice worth some PHP34.043 million, without the required import permits, earlier this year. It cites violations of:
– RA 10845, Sections 3a and 3c (agricultural smuggling)
– RA 3019, Sections 3e and 3j (graft and corruption)
– Grave Misconduct
– Ex-BOC commissioner Nicanor Faeldon
– NFA Administrator Jason Aquino
– Tomas Alcid, former district collector at Cagayan de Oro port
– Geniefelle Lagmay, Customs liaison officer to NFA of the Office of the BOC Commissioner
– Directors/officers of Cebu Lite Trading Inc., including Filomena Lim, Lucio Roger Lim Jr., Rowena Lim, Joselito Lopez, Josephine Rizalde, and Ambrosio Ursal Jr.
Sen. Lacson also sought the preventive suspension of Aquino, Alcid and Lagmay.
* HIGHLIGHTS OF THE COMPLAINT *
– Large-scale Agricultural Smuggling as Economic Sabotage covers rice worth at least P10 million, brought in without required permits. In this case, the rice brought in was worth some P34.043 million, and without the required import permit. The crime is non-bailable and punishable by life imprisonment.
– “Despite respondents’ knowledge of the lack of any import permit for the two subject rice shipments by CLTI, they nonetheless allowed their entry at the Port of Cagayan de Oro, and caused the unlawful release of these rice shipments from the BOC.”
– Under NFA Memorandum Circular AO 2016-09-005, an import permit must have been issued by the NDFA before rice shipments enter the 12-nautical-mile Philippine territory, “more so the port of entry.” As such, CLTI should have paid the proper tariffs before the rice shipments arrived. But CLTI paid these only on June 23, more than three months after the shipments arrived. As such, “these shipments are deemed illegal importations, and the Vietnamese White Rice are considered smuggled commodities.”
– Administrator Aquino’s belated issuance of the import permits in favor of CLTI is “fraudulent and invalid.”
– “Aquino gave undue favor to CLTI when he specifically stated in his Certification and Confirmation that the validity of the import entries will retroact from the time of the arrival of the shipment.”
– Considering these irregularities, Faeldon should have issued an outright objection to the release of the shipment.
– “It is clear that there was a conspiracy between and among the respondents to facilitate the unlawful release of the said rice shipments. Based on the evidence on record, it is obvious that the rice shipments were intended to be smuggled by CLTI, through its Directors and/or Officers. When several customs personnel noticed the irregularities, desperate and highly irregular acts were committed by Administrator Aquino, Atty. Lagmay, Collector Alcid and Commissioner Faeldon to make it appear that the applicable rules and regulations were followed to justify and facilitate the unlawful release of CLTI’s rice shipments.”
– Faeldon “knowingly made” the release of the shipments, as shown during his statements at a public hearing of the Senate committee on agriculture a day after communicating “NO OBJECTION” to the release of CLTI’s shipment.
– During the hearing, he said “Every rice that arrives sa bansa na walang permit, we seize them,” and claimed telling traders: “You should know that you need an import permit. Tapos ako ang mamaliin ninyo kapag sineize (seize) ko iyong – and you start calling everybody to pressure me to release your rice. That is how you do business.”
– Such statements were made during the Senate hearing a day after he “maliciously and illegally” allowed the release of smuggled rice. This is “a clear testament of the vileness of character and hypocrisy of Commissioner Faeldon.”
* TIMELINE OF EVENTS *
– 21,800 bags of Vietnamese Long Grain White Rice in 42 20-foot containers, worth $370,600, entered Cagayan de Oro Port.
– CLTI did not have the needed documents such as an import permit from the NFA. A spot check, approved by Alcid, prompted the CIIS to make a request for alert order.
– On the same day, 18,200 bags of Vietnamese Long Grain White Rice worth $309,400 in 35 20-foot containers entered CDO Port, also without an import permit.
– There was “no lodgement of an import entry for said shipments was made within the reglementary period mandated under Section 407 of the CMTA.”
– Alcid’s office ordered the abandonment of the shipments
– 25 days after the date of issuance of the Orders of Abandonment, NFA Administrator Aquino, “for unknown reasons,” suddenly issued a Certification dated 17 May 2017 and a Confirmation for these abandoned rice shipments of CLTI. Attached to the certification were NFA import permits in favor of CLTI.
– Both the Certification and the Confirmation expressly specified that the validity of these “import permits” would retroact to cover the actual date of arrival of the said rice shipments in the final port of destination.
– Alcid sought clearance from Faeldon to release the shipments, as the contents of the two shipments were already declared abandoned, and the import permits issued to CLTI already expired on April 4.
– Despite being fully aware of the above concerns, Commissioner Faeldon … unlawfully allowed the release of CLTI’s two rice shipments.
– CLTI paid to BOC P7,767,402 and P6,511,921 for the two shipments.
– “(I)n this case, the Government was deprived of the use and benefit of the abandoned shipments valued at USD$680,000.00, or Php34,043,520.00, computed based on the prevailing exchange rate of Php50.064 to US$1.00.”