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Graft case filed against former Customs Commissioner Lapeña

NATIONAL

Isidro Lapeña/Facebook

A graft complaint against former Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña has been filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) over the missing105 containers of ceramic tiles that disappeared from the BOC earlier in the year.
In a 34-page complaint filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, Nov.12, the NBI recommended that Lapeña and one unidentified individual be charged with violation of Section 3, Paragraph (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. An administrative case was also recommended for gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct.
March of this year customs officials reportedly found out that 105 containers of ceramic tiles from China and other imported products disappeared at the BOC despite an "alert order" preventing the release of these containers. 85 of these containers were later recovered in Meycauayan, Bulacan.
It all started when containers were released to Asian Terminal Inc. (ATI),  covered by an alert order without undergoing the required examination and without the lifting of said order by the customs commissioner.
ATI allegedly released the shipments based on "mere transmittal memoranda," without supporting documents, specifically a memo by the Customs commissioner lifting the alert order.
The NBI also found that the signatures of the officers Antonio Meliton Pascual and Marylyn Estur were "forged."
According to a report done by the Port of Manila district collector that Lapeña supposedly approved the recommendations for "unauthorized release" among others, the shipments of AbundanceGain Indent Trading Corp. and other firms that are subjected to "continuing alert."
The NBI said Lapeña violated established rules when his office issued a Manual Alert Order (MAO) even though at that time the Electronics-to-Mobile (E2M) Customs system was "fully accessible." 
"The manifest indifference of Lapeña to the established rules and procedures has led to the release of the shipments, escaping the revenues that the Republic of the Philippines is entitled to. These, when taken together, signifies the intention of Lapeña to cause injury to the government and took advantage of his office," the NBI said.

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