Martires sets 2-week deadline on Ombudsman’s customs probe

By Czarina Ong Ki

Ombudsman Samuel Martires has set a two-week deadline, or possibly even earlier, for his office to finish the probe against the reportedly corrupt officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Newly-appointed Ombudsman, Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Martires talks to the Supreme Court employees after attending his last flag raising in Manila, July 30,2018. (Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN) Ombudsman Samuel Martires (CZAR DANCEL / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

He revealed during an ambush interview held at the multi-sectoral meeting held at the Ombudsman Office in Agham Road, Quezon City on Thursday afternoon that he gave the order to his staff to start the probe and create a panel on July 17.

After hearing President Rodrigo Duterte mention the corruption at the BOC during the 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA), Martires said they "firmed up the members of the panel" and informed the media about their plans.

He admitted that they're "still investigating what kind of corruption" there is within the BOC, and he hopes to receive a partial report on Friday.

Those who will be found guilty of engaging in illicit practices will be slapped with criminal and administrative charges by the Ombudsman, who has been given powers under R.A. 6770 or the Ombudsman Act of 1989 to prosecute any public officer and employee who engages in illegal, unjust, or improper activities while in the course of their duties.

Aside from the charges, the Ombudsman may also order the preventive suspension of any officer or employee, if in his judgment the evidence of guilt against them is strong.

If warranted, the Ombudsman may even order the suspension or dismissal from the service of erring public officials found administratively liable for Grave Misconduct, Gross Neglect of Duty or Conduct Prejudicial to the Interest of the Service.

The penalty of dismissal from the service likewise carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits, bar from taking the civil service examination, and cancellation of eligibility.