A lawmaker on Tuesday took the cudgels up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte who had been linked to allegations of corruption at the Bureau of Customs.
Quirino Rep. Dakila Cua, chairperson of the House committee on ways and means which deliberated on the tax aspect of the shabu smuggling controversy, said his panel would no longer invite Vice Mayor Duterte to respond to allegations made by Customs broker Mark Taguba during Monday’s congressional probe into the the P6.4-billion shabu shipment.
Cua said he sees no need to summon the Davao City Vice Mayor unless Taguba is able to substantiate his allegation.
“It will depend on the statement of Mark Taguba next time if he believes we should [invite him] or not,” Cua said.
Taguba linked Vice Mayor Duterte in the so-called “Davao Group” which does transactions at the BoC. But Taguba admitted this information was a rumor at the bureau.
Vice Mayor Duterte disputed Taguba’s testimony.
“Taguba admitted that his testimony against me was based entirely on rumors. Why would we entertain or believe a hearsay? One does not dignify lies with a response,” Vice Mayor Duterte said.
In a related development, Customs Imports Assessment Service Director Milo Maestrecampo resigned from his post after he identified Taguba as one of the Customs officials who receive weekly payola at the bureau, long perceived to be as one of the most graft ridden agency of the government.
Maestrecampo submitted a resignation letter addressed to President Duterte dated Aug. 8, saying he is tendering his resignation and is submitting himself to an investigation.
Taguba has accused five other major officials of the BoC of taking bribes to facilitate his shipments, and identified them as Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Teddy Raval, Manila International Container Port District Collector Vincent Philip Maronilla, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service director Neil Estrella, and MICP-CIIS District Intelligence officer Teodoro Sagaral.
The former marine captain is one of the 20 former mutineers from the Magdalo group now working at the BoC.
In his letter, Maestrecampo said that “in order to fight for my honor and integrity and in the name of ‘delicadeza,’ I hereby tender my resignation and submit to investigations in order to clear my name.”
Maestrecampo was named by Taguba as one of the officials accepting bribes for the prompt release of shipments during the congressional hearing on the P6.5- billion shabu shipment, but denied the accusation saying “I am a rebel but I’m not a thief.”
“I will step down as soon as I go back to the BoC [Bureau of Customs]. I’m contented with my salary. No, I’m not involved in any illicit activities. I will present myself in any investigation,” Maestrecampo said.
While Taguba admitted that he did not give payola money directly to Maestrecampo, the BoC official said that his name has already been dragged into the mess and already captured by the media.