Twelve Bureau of Customs (BOC) employees may spend up to 12 years in prison if found guilty of conspiring to smuggle into the country more than P13.5 million worth of sugar.
A complaint filed against them in the Department of Justice on Wednesday accused them of conspiring with an importer, Don Trading, to facilitate the release of six sugar shipments last week from the Manila International Container Port (MICP).
BOC also sued the owner of Don Trading, Dennis Orlanda Narra, and its licensed customs broker, Ameloden Buruan Riga, for unlawful importation and economic sabotage.
The cargo consisting of 5,000 sacks of sugar was misdeclared as refractory mortar, a construction material, the complaint said.
Among those charged were MICP acting district collector Fidel Benigno Villanueva, who approved the lifting of the alert orders on the shipments; Office of the District Collector representative Gerardo Porible, who acted as the witness to the false examinations; and special assistant on assessment for the district collector, Terencio Comon.
Also charged were customs examiners Ruel Pantaleon, Raul Cimagala Jr., Vanzandt Remonde, Edmar Batino and Robert Tuason; and customs appraisers Jose Saromo, Benjamen Cayao, Leonora Navarro and Arlene Salazar.