Press Release
February 26, 2010


Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today sought a Senate probe of the complaints of customs brokers about alleged extortion activities by certain officials of the Bureau of Customs under the guise of election-related fund-raising drive.

Pimentel disclosed that a group of customs brokers had approached him to denounce the mulcters at the BoC and to ask for a legislative inquiry of the scam. He said he brought their complaint to the attention of the Senate in a privilege speech shortly before the chamber adjourned early this month.

He said the purported racket was also assailed by a businessman by the name of Lucio Sy in an interview by radio correspondent Dennis Datu which was reported over ABS-CBN-DZMM on Feb. l.

Datu was interviewed by program host Ted Failon for additional information on the illegal activities.

The correspondent reported about Sy's complaint that importers and customs brokers were being fleeced to the tune of P50,000 as renewal fee for their accreditation by the BOC, instead of the usual fee of Pl5,000. They were also alleged required to pay P3,000 for every container van before its release from the customs zone.

Datu also reported that Sy pointed to Executive Director Zsae Carrie de Guzman of the bureau's Customs Accreditation Services as the BoC official who allegedly demanded the payment of these questionable fees without any official receipt. Allegedly being victimized by the mulcters are some l00 importers and customs brokers whose accreditation is up for renewal every year.

According to Datu's report, the illegal exaction allegedly ordered by Director De Guzman was intended to fund the reelection campaign of a certain member of the Senate whom he identified in his report.

Pimentel said if Sy's allegations are true, the mulcting customs officials may be charged with "illegal exaction" or even bribery under the Revised Penal Code.

"In the news report, the name of one of our colleagues in the Senate was mentioned as the patron of De Guzman. For the record, our colleague had denied during our discussion in the Senate any complicity in the misdeed," he said.

"In this connection, it may be proper to summon Lucio Sy and Dennis Datu and the officials of the Customs Brokers Association of the Philippines, who told me that they were willing to testify before the Senate to validate their complaint against certain corrupt activities in the Bureau of Customs."

If necessary, as may be determined by the proper committee, Ted Failon may be summoned to testify on the broadcast adverted to, Pimentel added.

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