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Ombudsman orders dismissal of ex-NFA administrator, 2 BOC officials for rice smuggling.

By Raymund Antonio

The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal from service of former National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Jason Aquino and two Bureau of Customs officials over the smuggling of Vietnam rice in Cagayan De Oro.

In its decision, the Ombudsman found Aquino, who was the NFA administrator when the rice smuggling allegedly happened, guilty of administrative charges of grave misconduct.

Aside from Aquino, former Cagayan de Oro district collector Tomas Alcid and former Customs liaison officer to the NFA Geniefelle Lagmay were also dismissed.

The decision was approved last April 4, 2019 by Ombudsman Samuel Martires and Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval.

The dismissed officials were also meted penalties of "cancellation of civil service eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and from taking civil service examination," according to Ombudsman.

Senator Panfilo Lacson on September 2017 filed a complaint for economic sabotage, graft, and grave misconduct with the Ombudsman against former BOC commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and the three officials in connection with the two rice shipments consigned to Cebu Lite Trading Inc.

The first shipment containing 21,800 bags of Vietnamese long grain white rice, valued at $370,600, arrived at the Port of Cagayan De Oro on March 9, 2017.

Another shipment, with 18,200 bags of the same type of rice, valued at $309,400, entered the same port after a week.

According to Lacson's complaint, the rice shipments were already declared abandoned and seized in favor of the government in two rulings issued by Alcid on April 26 due to lack of import permits and payment of duties.

Although the shipments came in on March 9 and 16, CLTI lodged an import entry only on March 31.

On May 17, Aquino issued a certification for the shipments, stating the validity of the import permits would retroact to cover the actual dates of arrival.

Alcid on June 7 sought Faeldon's clearance for the release of the rice despite the expiration of the import permits. Faeldon then 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 decision said.

"Their separate acts evince 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," it added.

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 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.

The Ombudsman also junked the charges of Section 3 (j) of RA No. 3019 and Section 3 (a) and (c) of RA No. 10845 or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016 against the respondents.

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Office of the Ombudsman (MANILA BULLETIN)

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Apr 30, 2019
Words:497
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