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The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered an in-depth investigation into alleged graft and corrupt practices perpetrated by officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs which may lead to criminal and administrative charges.

Under Republic Act No. 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989), the Ombudsman as protector of the people, may investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient.

During the course of its investigation, the Ombudsman may order the preventive suspension of any officer or employee under his authority, if in his judgment the evidence of guilt is strong, and (a) the charge against such officer or employee involves dishonesty, oppression or grave misconduct or neglect in the performance of duty; (b) the charges would warrant removal from the service; or (c) the respondent’s continued stay in office may prejudice the case filed against him.

If warranted, the Ombudsman may order the suspension or dismissal from the service of erring public officials found administratively liable for Grave Misconduct, Gross Neglect of Duty or Conduct Prejudicial to the Interest of the Service.  The penalty of dismissal from the service carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits, bar from taking the civil service examination and cancellation of eligibility. ###