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SMC unit files graft raps vs port authority official

San Miguel Corp.-controlled Manila North Habor Port Inc. made good on its threat to pursue corruption charges against an official of the Philippine Ports Authority for blocking its operations as a newly designated international port.

MNHPI, which operates the Manila North Harbor, filed graft charges against PPA officer-in-charge and assistant general manager for operations Raul T. Santos before the Office of the Ombudsman, a statement on Monday showed. The filing was made last Friday, a spokesman said.

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Santos did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The issue stemmed from a turf war between the PPA and the Bureau of Customs last month, sparked by the latter’s orders in line with the implementation of RA 10668 that recently amended the 50-year-old Cabotage Law. The law allowed foreign vessels to dock, unload or carry import or export cargo at any Philippine port, including the Manila North Harbor.

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The row culminated in a memorandum order last June 21 signed by Santos that prohibited PPA port offices, harbor pilots and shipping lines/agents from handling foreign cargo at Manila North Harbor. Since MNHPI can handle foreign cargo, it would directly compete with the Manila port operations of International Container Terminal Services  Inc. and Asian Terminals Inc.

MNHPI said Santos’ memo “showed his partiality against MNHPI, causing undue injury to the port, the government, port users and other stakeholders.” It said Santos’ actions likewise ran counter to orders from the BOC that allowed foreign cargo to be handled at Manila North Harbor.

As such, the company said Santos was liable under Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

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TAGS: Business, economy, Graft, Manila North Habor Port Inc., News, Philippine Ports Authority, San Miguel Corp., SMC
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