[EXCLUSIVE] DOTr chief on appointment of disgraced Customs officials: My concern is future performance

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 10) — Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said he has no issues working with former Customs officials who resigned in the wake of corruption and incompetence allegations.

Speaking to CNN Philippines on Friday, Tugade said it was the first time he knew that former Customs Deputy Commissioner Gerardo Gambala and former Import Assessment Service Director Milo Maestrecampo were given posts at the Transportation Department.

The two were among President Rodrigo Duterte's 12 new appointees. Gambala is now Director IV at the Office for Transportation Security. Maestrecampo is Assistant Director General II of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

"The President has spoken and (as) one of the president's men, I'll follow," Tugade said.

"My concern will be future performance. If there is no problem with future performance and then so be it," he added.

Gambala and Maestrecampo were among Customs officials who supposedly received "tara" or payoffs to let shipments through, Senator Ping Lacson said in an August 23 privilege speech, citing "loud whispers" in the agency.

They both denied the allegations and at the same time resigned.

Two committees at the House of Representatives recommended investigations on Gambala and Maestrecampo's involvement in the unhampered entry of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China. Agents seized these in two Valenzuela warehouses last May.

Gambala was chief of the bureau's Command Center (ComCen), which had the sole power to issue alert orders on shipments.

Gambala failed to issue alert orders for the drug shipments, which were declared as kitchenware by its importer, EMT Trading, the House Committee on Ways and Means said.

Gambala earlier said the bureau receives up to 10,000 shipments daily and has limited ability to inspect all these.

The House Committee on Dangerous Drugs also recommended Maestrecampo for administrative investigation by the Civil Service Commission for "neglect of duty."