Ombudsman fires Customs official

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

MANILA -- A ranking official of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) at the Port of Manila was dismissed from the service for understated assets.

In a decision, the Office of the Ombudsman found substantial evidence to hold BOC chief customs operations officer Rafael Merencilla administratively liable for making false declarations in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Records showed Merencilla had an annual income of P449,676.00 while his wife, also a BOC employee, was earning P176,184.00 per year.

However, the Ombudsman discovered that Merencilla failed to declare at least six properties located in the cities of Lipa and Las Piñas, with the property in Lipa at least 18,535 square meters.

He failed to declare seven vehicles while his cash-on-hand leaped from only P30,000 in 1997 to P9,145,493.04 in 2009.

His assets increased from P4,480,000 to P29,301,380.64 during the same period.

Merencilla's family had trips to the United States, Tokyo and Bangkok, according to documents submitted by the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
Discrepancies in the disclosure of business interests were also established.

“[A]s a public officer (he) has the duty to declare his ownership over his properties as the law requires full disclosure of all (his) assets, liabilities, and net worth,” the decision stated.

The penalty of dismissal from the service carries accessory penalties of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification for re-employment in government service. (Sunnex)

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