CAGAYAN DE ORO (MDN Digital, May 1) – A former top-ranking official of National Food Authority (NFA) and two officials of the Bureau of Customs were ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman as they were found guilty of rice smuggling.
In its decision, those found guilty of administrative charges of grave misconduct were Jason Aquino, former NFA administrator; former Cagayan de Oro district collector Tomas Alcid and Genifelle Lagmay, former customs liaison officer to the NFA.
It was Ombudsman Samuel Martires and Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval who approved the decision.
Others penalties meted to them include “cancellation of civil service eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and from taking civil service examination.”
On September 2017, Senator Panfilo Lacson filed a complaint in the Ombudsman for economic sabotage, graft as well as grave misconduct against former BOC commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and three other officials in relation with the reported rice smuggling involving two shipments of rice to Cebu Lite Trading Inc.
Based on investigations, the first shipment of imported rice from Vietnam containing 21,800 bags valued at $370,600 arrived in Cagayan de Oro port on March 9, 2017. Another shipment of smuggled rice with 18,800 of the same type and were valued at $309,400 also entered Cagayan de Oro port after a week.
Lacson claimed the two importations were already declared abandoned and seized in favor of the government based on two rulings issued by Alcid on April 26 because it lacks the pertinent importation permits as well as payment dues.
It was learned that impor entry on said smuggled rice from Vietnam was March 31, although the shipments arrived in on March 9 and 16.
Aquino then issued a certification on May 7 which stated the validity of the importation permits, saying it would retroact to cover the said actual dates of arrival.
Alcid then asked for Faeldon's clearance on June 7 to release the rice despite of the expired import permits, it was learned. Faeldon, investigation revealed, allowed
the release of the two shipments.
“Under these circumstances, respondents Aquino, Alcid and Lagmay are blameworthy for having dealt with CLTI whose business was favored directly with the functions of their office,” the Ombudsman claimed in its decision.
The Ombudsman also said “Their separate acts evidence the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law of flagrant disregard of established rule. Hence, they should be held administratively liable for grave misconduct.”
The special investigating panel created by the Ombudsman has recommended to charge Faeldon, Aquino, Alcid and Lagmay on the reported rice smuggling shipments.
A special investigating panel from the Ombudsman has already recommended the filing of graft charges against Faeldon, Aquino, Alcid, and Lagmay over the rice shipments. The panel found probable cause to charge those accused of the appropriate charges under section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The fact-finding panel found probable cause to charge the four individuals for Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.