Customs admits collection performance in Northern Mindanao poor

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/04 June) — The collection performance of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Region 10 is way below its target of PhP450 million per month.

BOC-10 has jurisdiction over the ports of Cagayan de Oro, the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) in Tagoloan, the Iligan City port and the Ozamis City port.

Customs regional director Anju Nereo C. Castigador said that the controversy hounding the MCT has pulled down their collection performance.

MCT reportedly accounts for 82 percent of the collection for the region and the remaining 18 percent is being shared by the rest of the ports.

“The ports in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan are ranked outstanding but overall the region’s performance is poor because of the performance of the MCP where the bulk of our collection should have come,” Castigador told MindaNews.

The MCP became controversial after the name of its former customs collector lawyer Noah Dimaporo was found in the “black book” of smuggling suspect Lynard Allan Bigcas.

The BOC has been summoned to the House ways and means committee which is now investigating the Bigcas case.

Authorities have discovered “hot” cars and motorcycles from Bigcas’ home in Talakag, Bukidnon and Barangay Kauswagan, this city. At least seven of the vehicles found in Bigcas’ possession were stolen from the United States, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Castigador who took the helm of the regional office here only last April said that on top of his agenda is the total revamp of the Customs operation in the MCT. “We really have to cleanse the port to make sure that proper taxes and customs duties are paid.”

Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez relieved Dimaporo from the MCT when his name surfaced in the House investigation last May 23. He was replaced by lawyer Emerlito Aquino.

MCT Deputy Customs Collector Lowell Medija had been charged in the Ombudsman in March this year.

The Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) of the Department of Finance filed the case against
Medija for allegedly amassing unexplained wealth which includes mansions, prime real estate and 16 vehicles despite having an annual salary of only P511,000.

Another employee at the MCT, a customs assessor Chona Sarte is also facing investigation for alleged unexplained wealth.

“Wala pa namang finding sa case ni Sarte, and we are granting her presumption of innocence as of this moment,” Castigador said.

Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Misamis Oriental 2nd district Rep. Bambi Emano had said that they will bring the MCT issues to the ways and means committee chaired by Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)