Lacson tagged Rubio ‘BoC bagman’

Bringing along cops brandishing long firearms, Rubio closed down Gate 3 of the BoC on Friday, according to sources who lamented his ‘disruption’ of bureau operations

The newly designated head of the Bureau of Customs — Bienvenido Rubio — was one of several alleged bagmen or collectors named by Senator Panfilo Lacson in a 2017 privilege speech that assailed massive corruption in the bureau.

Lacson at the time said he carefully “vetted and cross-matched” the names on his list of bribe takers and givers at the BoC, including its then commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and the now BoC chief-designate Rubio.

Faeldon resigned while denying the allegation that he received P100 million in “pasalubong” or gift from district officials and their bagmen when he assumed the top BoC post.

During the time, corruption at the BoC grabbed the spotlight following the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China.

In Lacson’s list, Rubio, who is said to be with the Intellectual Property Rights Division of the BoC then, was among several dozens of men and women who were identified by the senator as collectors of tara or bribe money from smugglers.

Also on the “bribe takers and givers” list were BoC Deputy Commissioners Vener Baquiran and Teddy Raval.

Baquiran and Raval, along with BoC Assistant Commissioner Vincent Maronilla, were allegedly the ones who pushed for the appointment of Rubio as BoC chief despite his low rank of director 3 in the bureau, according to sources.

A religious group was also said to be behind the leadership shakedown at the BoC, according to the same sources who were privy to the developments but who requested not to be named for not being authorized to speak on the matter.

Maronilla was previously accused of receiving bribes in connection with the P6.4 billion shabu shipment, according to a 2018 tweet by Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto that questioned his promotion to assistant commissioner.

“If in the Armed Forces, you end your stint with the infamous ‘goodbye (cash) sendoff,’ in the Bureau of Customs you start your stint with a ‘welcome gift,’” Lacson said in that speech.

“Holy mackerel! You’re welcomed with cash (at the BoC)!” the senator exclaimed.

The Palace on Friday announced Rubio’s designation as BoC commissioner from his previous post as director of the BoC’s Port Operations Service Under the Assessment and Operations and Coordinating Group. Rubio was to take over the BoE top post from Yogi Filemon Ruiz.

Rubio reportedly trooped to the BoC main office in Manila on Friday, and with the nearly three dozen policemen in full battle gear that served as his personal bodyguards purportedly closed its Gate 3.

A businessman transacting with the BoC slammed the disruption of BoC operations as “petty warlordism” on Rubio’s part. “Why would he need to be guarded by people with long firearms? Who is this guy, anyway?” he asked.

Daily Tribune sought a reaction from former senator Lacson on Rubio. Likewise, comments from Rubio and Ruiz were sought by the paper. All queries remained pending at press time.

According to sources, Rubio’s posting at the helm of the BoC caught no less than the President by surprise while in the middle of his official working visit to Japan.

Some Palace officials also reportedly expressed objection to Rubio’s appointment on account of his reported pending case before the Ombudsman filed by a lawyer over the trash from Canada that was transported to the Philippines.

The BoC in 2022 collected P863 billion, exceeding its P721.52 billion collection target by 19.6 percent and surpassing its 2021 total revenue by 34.1 percent.

BoC’s 17 collection districts all met their collection targets for 2022, posting a 17 percent surplus of P103.29 billion before yearend.

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