Customs collector in Mindanao flunks lifestyle check

Davao City at nightImage via WikipediaA March 15, 2011 press release by the Department of Finance

The Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) of the Department of Finance filed today corresponding criminal and administrative charges with the Office of the Ombudsman against Lowell Lomuljo Medija, Customs Collector IV with an annual gross income of Php511,668.00 at the Bureau of Customs, Mindanao Container Terminal Phividec, Tacoloan, Misamis Oriental.

Based on the evidence obtained by RIPS, Medija had steadily acquired ample wealth consisting of prime properties in Davao City which are two newly constructed mansions in South Royal Pines-Matina, a house and lot in Talomo Bucana Moonland Subdivision, a residential lot in Toril Eden Mountain Haven Subdivision and a 5.5 hectare agricultural tract of land with various plantations of pomelos, bananas, and mangoes; six poultry buildings; a piggery; and a two-storey mansion with a swimming pool.

In addition, Medija also owns 16 vehicles consisting of Ford Explorer Wagon, Toyota Fortuner Wagon, Toyota Land Cruiser, Honda Civic Sedan, Nissan Silvia Sedan, Honda Hatchback Sedan, Mazda Tribute 2, as well as Isuzu cargo trucks and utility vans, and a Honda motorcycle in his extensive collection.

In a seeming attempt to justify such overwhelming acquisitions, Medija declared several business interests namely Semmacor, L.M. Tunnel Operations, A.A. Resources, Inc. and Callwell TSI Corporation which, according to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), were regarded only as mere trade names and do not regularly file income tax returns, while another existing corporation which is the Bell Fruits and Livestock Farms, Inc. whose earnings based on its Income Tax Returns (ITR) from years 2006 to 2007, likewise appear to be insignificant to substantiate such luxurious lifestyle. Moreover, while this corporation appears to have existed earlier than 2006, it was declared in Medija’s SALN only in the year 2008.

Medija purportedly violated Section 8 of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for his unsubstantiated accumulation of wealth, and a clear contravention of Section 8(a) of R.A. 6713 and Section 7 of R.A. 3019 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees for failing to properly disclose a true and factual statement of his assets. These properties which comprise unexplained wealth warrant forfeiture proceedings.

Medija is likewise liable for alleged violations of Articles 171 and 183 or Perjury and Falsification of the Revised Penal Code for making incorrect and untruthful declarations in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN) regarding his business interests, real properties and other questionable acquisitions.

Ultimately, if proven guilty after further investigation, he could be dismissed and perpetually removed from government service.