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A number of Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials, including Customs commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, are facing graft and usurpation charges over the alleged illegal appointment of some officials in the agency.

In three separate complaints filed with the Ombudsman on August 1, complainant Joana Marie M. Gonzales of an anti-corruption group called Transparency in Public Service (TIPS) filed charges of graft and usurpation, or unlawful use of authority, against Guerrero, chief-of-staff (COS) Teodoro Jumamil, deputy commissioner for Internal Administration Group Donato San Juan, deputy commissioner for Intelligence Group (IG) Raniel Ramiro, and Risk Management Office (RMO) chief George Patrick Avila.

In one of the complaints with Guerrero and Jumamil as respondents, Gonzales stated that the appointment of Jumamil as deputy commissioner of the Revenue Collection and Monitoring Group (RCMG) on March 1, 2019 was “illegal,” citing Section 132 of Rule XIII of the 2017 Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Human Resources.

The section states that no consultant, contractual or non-career or detailed employee shall be designated to a position exercising control or supervision over regular and career employees.

Prior to his appointment as RCMG chief, Jumamil was assigned as COS in the latter part of last year, which was also the time when Guerrero took over BOC.

In another complaint, this time against Guerrero and San Juan, Gonzales said San Juan was picked by Guerrero in November 2018 to be acting deputy commissioner for IAG. But subsequently, without occupying a permanent plantilla, San Juan “began performing the official functions of the deputy commissioner…without any appointment and through the consent and acquiescence of respondent Guerrero,” Gonzales said.

In another complaint naming Guerrero, Ramiro and Avila as respondents, Gonzales said Avila in February 2019 began performing the functions of chief of RMO “without any appointment and through the consent and acquiescence of Guerrero and Ramiro.” RMO is under IG.

Guerrero later issued a memorandum directing Avila to take on the duties and responsibilities of RMO chief, but Gonzales said this was an “illegal designation,” citing once again Section 132 of Rule XIII of the 2017 Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Human Resources. She added that Guerrero and Ramiro “committed acts of corrupt practices and acts of grave misconduct and honesty” when they allowed Avila to perform the functions of RMO chief.

Gonzales also accused the BOC officials of usurping official functions, and violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits giving unwarranted benefits to any party through manifest partiality, evident bad faith, and gross inexcusable negligence.

Gonzales also asked for preventive suspension of the respondents “in view of the urgent need that their continued stay in office may prejudice the case filed against them.”

“Clearly, the designation of respondents, outsiders in the eyes of the BOC, to career positions, was done through manifest partiality and evident bad faith,” Gonzales said.

In a statement sent to media on August 1, Guerrero said they have yet to receive a copy of the complaint and that they will answer and “disprove the allegations in the proper forum.”

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