Customs officials under probe may be preventively suspended — Martires

Credit to Author: acerojano| Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2019 11:06:22 +0000

MANILA, Philippines – The more than 50 Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials under scrutiny for corruption issues may be preventively suspended to make the investigation easier, Ombudsman Samuel Martires said on Thursday.

However, Martires said that he would await the initial findings of the panel formed last Tuesday before he decides if he would issue a suspension order.

“Titignan ko kung ano ang ire-report sa akin bukas, hopefully I’ll get a partial report tomorrow,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a multi-sectoral meeting the Office of the Ombudsman hosted.

According to Martires, he thinks state prosecutors and investigators cannot proceed with the probe if the concerned officials are still in their respective posts.


“I don’t think we can proceed with the investigation if we do not impose a preventive suspension,” he added.

On Wednesday, the Office revealed that an investigation against the Customs officials — that President Rodrigo Duterte met before his State of the Nation Address (Sona) — was underway.

READ: Ombudsman orders probe of Customs personnel

Martires said that he was mulling an investigation as early as July 17, when a copy of BOC Commissioner Rey Guerrero’s memorandum ordering the officials to appear before Duterte was sent to him through a chat app. However, they opted to wait for the results of the meeting.

“So immediately when we received it, I called some of my staff, sabi ko ‘let’s look into this. Tignan natin ‘ka ko ito, and let’s form a panel,” he explained.

“Let’s wait for July 18 kung ano ang mangyayari sa Malacañang. But apparently no report was made in July 19 […] So 20, 21, 22, Sona, we only formed up the members of the panel noong Tuesday, after the Sona,” he added.

He noted though that they have not yet determined what form of corruption happened in the often controversial agency.

“We’re still investigating what is that kind of corruption,” Martires said.

Last July 19, Duterte revealed that he would be dismissing around 64 officials, although he would like to hear their side first.

“I will be dismissing something like 64 Customs officials,” Duterte said.

READ: 64 Customs personnel on Duterte’s chopping block

READ: Duterte meets relieved Customs employees in Malacañang

During his Sona, the President asked for the cooperation of Congress in ridding corruption at the BOC, by abolishing the positions of the concerned officials.

“And if I cannot dismiss them for the reason that there is a security of tenure, I will just allow them to have their plantilla positions but they have to report to Congress every day to help me in the huge paperwork that we have to do everyday,” Duterte claimed./ac

READ: FULL TEXT: President Duterte’s 4th Sona