Broker tags Customs officials allegedly taking bribe

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Mark Taguba approached and pointed to a number of Bureau of Customs officials on Monday during an ongoing House probe on the ₱6.4 billion shabu shipment that entered the country last May.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 7) — A broker has named Customs officials allegedly on the take to facilitate the release of his shipment, but all those he had pointed to denied the allegations.

Mark Taguba approached and pointed to a number of Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials on Monday during an ongoing House probe on the ₱6.4 billion shabu shipment that entered the country last May. He, however, denied that the cache of shabu came from his containers.

Taguba said he paid ₱27,000 per container to expedite the release of his shipment. Of this amount, he said P10,000 went to Import and Assessment Service led by Director Milo Maestrecampo.

He said ₱3,000 went to Manila International Container Port District Collector Vincent Maronilla.

READ: Manila port collector on drug shipment: We followed procedure

Another official, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Teddy Raval allegedly gets ₱2,000 pesos.

Taguba claimed he also paid Customs Intelligence and Investigation Services Directors Niel Estrella and District Director Teddy Sagaral ₱500 pesos each. All the alleged payoffs were paid per container, he pointed out.

He also tagged other officials, but they were absent during the hearing.

One by one, the named officials fended off Taguba's accusations.

Maestrecampo said he was not into unlawful activities as he was contented with his salary.

"When I go back to the BOC, I will step down from my appointed post. I will submit anything in any investigation," he said.

Maronilla denied his office was getting anything, saying there were certain functions already removed from the district collector such as issuing alert orders.

For his part, Raval also said the powers of the intel group had been "substantially diluted" and there would be no reason to pay officials off.

Estrella defended himself by saying they would not have seized the shabu haul if they were receiving grease money.

Meanwhile, Sagaral said his track record had been clean before this mess, and that he was also ready to face any investigation.

Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon was a no-show in the hearing, citing a dental emergency — an excuse which lawmakers described as shallow and unacceptable.

READ: X-rays for shipment have never detected drugs - Customs Commissioner

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.