There is a rumor that outgoing Sen. Francis Pangilinan will replace Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala when the three-term senator’s tenure expires in June.
If the rumor is true, President Noy is making a very big mistake.
Is the President dumping a very competent and hardworking agriculture secretary who is much loved by farmers just to accommodate a former colleague in the Senate?
Alcala is the first agriculture chief since Arturo Tanco of the Marcos martial law years to have made the country achieve a bountiful rice harvest.
The bountiful harvest this year may even lead to a rice surplus for export.
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But despite an abundant harvest, which will probably make the country export rice this year, rice smuggling continues.
Smuggled rice is shipped into the ports of Manila, Cebu, Davao and Cagayan de Oro.
In Cebu, smuggled rice is misdeclared as inexpensive items so its importers and brokers pay only nominal amounts of taxes and duties for the shipment.
My sources say each container of smuggled rice earns P20,000 for corrupt Cebu customs officials.
Another P10,000 allegedly goes to the Bureau of Customs’ revenue collection monitoring group (RCMG) based in Manila, according to my sources.
Still another P30,000 for a different unit based in Manila.
Multiply P60,000—P20,000 for corrupt Cebu customs officials, P10,000 for the RCMG and P30,000 for another Manila unit—by 500 to 1,000 containers every week and you have an idea how much goes to the pockets of corrupt customs officials.
And that’s not counting the smuggled rice in shipping containers that arrive in the ports of Manila, Davao and Cagayan de Oro every week.
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I was told that a big part of the take goes to a Cabinet member.
The Cabinet official must be a multimillionaire by now.
Daang matuwid, my eye!
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Rey and Baby Ongpauco, parents of actress Heart Evangelista who is dating Sen. Chiz Escudero, not only confirmed what I wrote in this column on Tuesday about their feelings for the senator as told to me by their comadre. Escudero has denied the allegations.
The couple also poured out their sentiments against the reelectionist senator who is leading in all surveys.
They told me what they said were very revealing things about Chiz.
I have recorded my interview with the multimillionaire couple. Here are excerpts of their claims:
“You know, our daughter is a spoiled brat and we buy her all the things she wants. You know what Chiz does? He gave Heart a watch which he said came from a Chinese supporter. He learned that Heart wanted a certain (brand of) watch so he got it from a Chinese supporter. That’s how he gives gifts to Heart: He would get them from supporters. Like that watch which costs five million pesos which, he told Heart, he would pay back to the Chinese.
“Bobby Ongpin backs him up (financially). Heart wanted a (house) trailer, Chiz said for her not to buy it because he would give it to her as a gift. Bobby Ongpin would give it to him as a Christmas gift.
“Now, he promised to buy Heart a house. ‘Don’t ask your Dad to build you a house because I will take care of buying it for you. My law firm was approached by a foreign company and will hire my firm.’”
“In truth, I heard he has no law firm.”
“My daughter’s P30-million movie contract, he boasted he would top nine times over.”
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If I were Chiz Escudero, I would not compete with Heart’s parents who are very, very rich, because he can’t, unless he steals.
I would just offer her my heart and soul and love everybody and everything she loves, including her parents.
That way I would not get into trouble.