Customs exec axed for unexplained wealth

Posted at 02/11/14 9:57 AM

MANILA – The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal of a ranking Bureau of Customs official at the Port of Manila due to unexplained wealth.

The Ombudsman said it found substantial evidence to hold Rafael Mendoza Merencilla, BOC Chief Customs Operations Officer, administratively liable for making false declarations in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

Merencilla and his wife, also a Customs employee, have an annual income of P449,676 and P176,184, respectively.

The Ombudsman, however, said Merencilla's total assets were grossly disproportionate to his income, increasing from P4,480,000.00 in 1997 to P29,301,380.64 in 2009.

The Ombudsman found out that Merencilla failed to declare seven vehicles and at least six properties in Lipa City and Las Piñas, with the property in Lipa measuring at least 18,535 square meters.

Merencilla's cash-on-hand also increased from P30,000 in 1997 to P9,145,493.04 in 2009.

There were also discrepancies in Merencilla's disclosure of business interests. Bureau of Immigration records also showed the Merencilla family made several foreign travels to the United States, Tokyo, and Bangkok.

"...[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," a portion of the 23-page decision read.

Aside from being dismissed from service, Merencilla was also penalized with cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and perpetual disqualification for re-employment in government service.