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MORE ILLEGAL IMPORTATIONS COULD HAVE BEEN RELEASED DUE TO NEW BOC SYSTEM – GORDON

Senator Richard J. Gordon expressed apprehension that the new system being implemented in the Bureau of Customs could have allowed more illegal importations to be released.

Gordon raised this point during the first hearing of the investigation undertaken by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, which he chairs, in connection with the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China that was seized in a raid in two warehouses in Valenzuela in late May.

"Pumalpak iyong sistema. Nag-collapse iyong sistema. Yes or no? So in other words, medyo may depekto ito because we are able to prove na green lane niyo lahat itong si EMT. Grineen-lane niyo. Ngayon, may nakakita--bakit naka-green lane ito? Single proprietor iyan, tama? So, hindi dapat i-green lane. Pero the fact is, nasa green lane siya," the senator pointed out, referring to EMT Trading, named consignee of the shipment.

"Is it possible that because of this order, makakalusot dahil hindi niyo naasikaso at that time. Hindi ka naman nandoon 24 hours, ah. How many people are bringing out stuff from the Customs? Ten thousand units every day, correct? Pag may nag-alert, ibig sabihin kayo lang ang pwedeng mag-issue ng alert...In other words, pagka hindi ka gumalaw, lalabas. So it is possible pag humingi sila in writing at naupuan ninyo dahil busy kayo, lalabas iyong goods na ini-smuggle. Pwede?" he added.

Reportedly to prevent the unnecessary issuance of alert orders and to protect the integrity of the alert order system, Customs Commissioner Nicanor E. Faeldon issued Customs Memorandum Order 23/2016 which revoked an earlier memorandum giving authority to issue alert orders to the Deputy Commissioner (DepCom), Intelligence Group; DepCom, Enforcement Group; and the DepCom Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group on issues concerning rules of origin, valuation and classification of goods; including all district collectors for shipment arriving within their district and sub-ports.

Under Faeldon's memo, only the Office of the Commissioner, through the Command Center (ComCen) created under Customs Special Order No. 45-2016, is authorized to issue alert orders. The ComCen is headed by Gerardo Gambala.

The senator also refused to buy the BOC officials' explanation that the shipment for EMT Trading was placed under Green Lane because Lambert Hilario, head of the BOC-Risk Management Office, failed to update the entries on the required parameters for the EMT shipment.

Gordon also expressed his suspicion that there could be even bigger shabu shipments that were allowed to pass undetected through the BOC's green lane, adding that the seized shipment may have only served as a decoy for bigger shipments.

"Ngayon, ang tanong, ilan pa ang lumabas na hindi natin alam? Iyon ang problema namin dito. Ilan pa ang lumabas? Kaya nagimbal kaming lahat dito. Paano makakapagpalabas tapos hindi pa maayos ang paghuli? At paano kayo nakakalusot sa green lane? Iyon ang ipaliwanag ninyo rito. Inambunan lang tayo. Malaking malaki pero talagang mas di hamak na mas malaki iyong nakalusot. Pwede iyon, hindi ba? Inambunan lang tayo. Malaking malaki pero talagang mas di hamak na mas malaki iyong nakalusot. Pwede iyon, hindi ba?" he said.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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