Customs oversight team fired, includes former mayor of Surigao Norte town

Thirty-eight members of the congressional oversight team assigned to the Bureau of Customs to help curb smuggling and dumping have been given their termination order.

The termination of their services was relayed by oversight committee chairman Rep. Exequiel Javier to Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales in a letter dated May 29.

Javier cited “budgetary constraints” reports that said the team members had been harassing importers and in some instances had engaged in extortion.

Among those given their walking papers were head consultant Ernesto Velloso and Edgar Andanar, former mayor of a Surigao del Norte town.

The House of Representatives created the committee last year amid reports of rampant dumping and smuggling in major ports such as Cebu and Subic.

But many of the consultants abused their powers and even acted like they were Customs-authorized appraiser and examiners themselves, Customs sources said.

“There are lots of complaints, which according to Congressman Javier, prompted him to remove the team,” said Morales. “He [Javier] acted on it, because his reputation is at stake.”

Several members of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry lodged complaints against the oversight team members for harassment and extortion, the Sun Star Cebu reported May 28. (Manila Standard Today)

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