Text messages detail Customs bribe scandal

  • Written by Marlon Purificacion
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 446

CUSTOMS fixer Mark Taguba disclosed the detailed tara or grease money given to offices in the Customs
bureau and collectors.

During the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on the tara system in the BoC,
Taguba also presented text messages, withdrawals and call logs proving the alleged anomalous

According to Taguba Among the offices at the BoC that were given tara were the Import Assessment
Services (IAS), Intelligence Group (IG), formal Entry Division, Customs Intelligence and Investigation
Service (CIIS), Enforcement and Security Service (ESS), Assessment and Operational Coordinating Group
(AOCG), X-ray section.
Taguba said he gave P27,200 tara per container distributed among the BoC offices adding that the
total grease money he gave to the agency was P489,600.
He also showed an exchange of messages with a certain “Mae” who he said was the collector of

Customs Intelligence officer Joel Pinawin.
Taguba claimed Mae collected bribe money for the CIIS then headed by Director Neil Estrella.
To prove his allegation, Taguba showed a text message from Mae about a “reminder” from Pinawin
of the money due to Estrella.
Pinawin told senators there was a certain Mae Escueto working at the CIIS, but he denied
instructing her to collect money for him and Estrella.
Pinawin immediately denied he had transactions with Taguba, saying he only talked with him once
when they conducted an operation in Baclaran.
“Wala po akong inuutos na maningil si Mae Escueto para sa akin,” Pinawin said. “Nagkausap lang
po kami nung may hinuli kami sa Baclaran.”
“Mr. Pinawin, you’re under oath, I’m reminding you. Pag na confront ka ng the Cstoms official.
Taguba then showed a copy of phone call logs with Pinawin during that two-week period. It showed
Pinawin’s supposed phone number and the duration of calls.
“Nagkakausap po kami. March 27 to 31 may call logs po kami,” said Taguba.
Also during the probe, Lacson questioned the issuances of special stop orders on shipments that
were already approved to pass through the green lane.
“Kasi meron yun yung tinatawag ko na doble tara ng doble kara. Nagtara na, napunta sa green
lane, pinrocess na. Tatarahan pa ulit sa pamamagitan ng special stop orders,” Lacson said.
He said the use of such orders is one of the “mysteries” during the stint of Faeldon.
Liza Sebastian, a collector assigned at the CIIS, explained that the special stop orders are
used to “prevent the release of shipments even after duties and taxes have been paid.”
She said such orders are only issued by the office of the commissioner upon the recommendation
of any of the alerting units.