Save 20% off! Join our newsletter and get 20% off right away!

BOC employee arrested for accepting bribe


QUEZON CITY, Philippines – An employee of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) was arrested by operatives from the BOC’s Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) and the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) for allegedly asking for bribe money to facilitate the clearance of used clothing (“ukay-ukay”) seized by the Bureau.

The employee, Ethel Bernas, holds the rank Customs Operations Officer III (COO 3) and is assigned at the Auction and Cargo Disposal Division of the BOC at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Colleciton District. She was arrested following a complaint filed by a certain Jane Louise Balse with the Customs Police. According to Balse, Bernas offered to facilitate the release of container vans loaded with used clothing from Hong Kong and the United States in exchange for an initial payment of P1-Million. Bernas allegedly asked Balse for additional payment purportedly intended for other BOC officials totaling P425,000. Balse claimed that even after producing the money and paying Bernas, the shipment was not released, with the latter claiming the certain documents were not signed. Last August 8, Balse claimed Bernas called her and demanded P155,000—prompting her to file the complaint.

Republic Act (R.A) 4653 bans the commercial importation of used clothing and textiles “to protect the health of the Filipinos and to preserve the Filipino dignity.”

Bernas will face charges related to violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Direct Bribery and Estafa. She will be subjected to inquest and booking at the PNP-CIDG Headquarters in Camp Crame. On top of this, Bernas could face administrative charges under the BOC Code of Conduct and related civil service laws.

Bernas had been found guilty of Grave Misconduct by the Ombudsman. In a six-page decision dated June 25, 2014, Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang approved the verdict and meted Bernas with the penalty of Dismissal from the Service. The dismissal was effective last July 31, 2014. However, Bernas continued to go to her office at BOC-NAIA claiming that she filed an appeal before the Ombudsman.

Last May 23, operatives of the Bureau’s Intelligence Group, in coordination with the Philippine National Police, arrested BOC employee Freddie Castro Ruba, an employee assigned at the BOC-North Harbor and Rafael Reyes Sevilla, a casual worker (or hiao-siao) at the BOC-North Harbor, on charges of robbery and extortion following an entrapment operation. At least 16 other employees of the Bureau of Customs have been slapped administrative charges for conniving with smugglers and importers in illegally bringing rice into the country; while 47 others are under investigation for collusion with unscrupulous rice traders.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.