THE COUNTRY’S CHIEF graft buster has ordered the dismissal of seven Bureau of Customs employees for grave misconduct and neglect of duty.
Aside from the dismissal, the Ombudsman Samuel Martires also suspended another Customs employee, according to separate decisions released to media yesterday.
Dismissed were Customs deputy collector Ramon Hernandez, operation officers Lomonto Macabando, Vanzandt Remonde and Vicente Gamboa, police assistant chief Jaybee Raul Cometa, security guard Renly Tiñana, and special agent Oscar Farin.
Operations officer Dolores Domingo was suspended for a year without pay for gross insubordination.
The decisions come after President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his yearly address to Congress in July admitted persistent corruption in the government.
The president vowed to cause the removal of corrupt officials at Customs, where more than 60 people were under investigation for corruption.
Two days after Mr. Duterte’s speech, Mr. Martires said in a statement he had ordered a corruption probe of officials and employees at Customs.
Based on one of the decisions, Mr. Hernandez was charged with three accounts of gross negligence for allowing the shipment of cargoes without following proper procedures.
Mr. Macabando was found guilty of grave misconduct for trying to sneak out from the airport a clutch bag full of jewelry without an invoice or receipt.
Meanwhile, Mr. Remonde was found guilty of grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and serious dishonesty for certifying that a package contained refractory mortar when in fact it contained sugar.
Mr. Cometa was found guilty of gross neglect of duty for failing to flag an importer that later got a shipment filled with 276 kilos of crystal meth worth P1.8 billion concealed in bags of plastic resins, according to the ombudsman’s ruling.
Meanwhile, Mr. Tiñana was charged for grave misconduct after he asked a trainee who was no longer connected with Customs to deposit P179,000 in illicit money in a bank.
The ombudsman also said Mr. Farin was found guilty of neglect of duty for failing to verify documents for cargo trucks which were later apprehended for containing smuggled rice.
Mr. Gamboa was fired for grave misconduct after extorting P3,000 from a parcel claimant at the Pasay post office, according to the decision.
Meanwhile, Ms. Domingo was suspended for gross insubordination after she refused to be deployed to the Port of Cagayan De Oro in central Philippines.
The Office of the Ombudsman is empowered to fire government officials in administrative cases. After a dismissal or suspension, it usually files criminal charges against erring officials in court. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras