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DOJ mulls letting Ombudsman handle graft raps vs. Lapeña

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) is considering letting the Office of the Ombudsman handle the graft raps filed against former Customs commissioner and now Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Isidro Lapena.

“Isa sa option ng DOJ ay i-endorso sa Ombudsman ang reklamo ng NBI laban kay dating Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena,” revealed Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed the complaint before the DOJ last Nov. 12 against Lapena over the illegal release of 105 container vans containing P69 million worth of goods last March.

Aside from graft, the NBI also recommended that Lapena be administratively charged with gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct.

“The manifest indifference of Lapena 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,” the NBI complaint read.

Last March, 105 container vans containing ceramic tiles which were the subject of manual alert orders (MAO) were illegally released last March with the use of forged orders lifting the alert orders.

The NBI reminded the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has an existing electronic mobile system (e2m) which “makes use of advanced technology including electronic signatures to provide government officials with new tools to enable them to make dramatic improvements in security, trade efficiency and to fight corruption.”

It added MAO may only be issued under the following instances: the e2m system is not accessible; for unmanifested cargoes or shipment; for entries of informal entry; and for export cargoes.

“Following the procedures strictly could have prevented the presentation of the forged memoranda, thus, the taxes due to the government should have been settled before the release of the shipment,” the NBI said.

The NBI learned that Lapena issued MAOs despite the e2m system “was accessible and fully operational.”

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