ON TARGET

Customs bureau plays favorites

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In an effort to show the public that it’s doing its job going after rice smugglers, the Bureau of Customs has been holding a supposedly legitimate shipment of rice in Legazpi City.

Three importers’ groups—Samahan ng mga Kapampangan sa San Ildefonso Multi-purpose Cooperative, Sili Multi-purpose Cooperative, and Green Valley United Cooperative—are complaining that the bureau seized their shipments despite being given import permits by the National Food Authority (NFA).

The cooperatives imported a total of 94,000 sacks of rice from Vietnam under the NFA’s Private Sector Financed Importation Program.

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On Sept. 11, the customs bureau’s office at the Port of Legazpi ordered the seizure of the rice cargo.

Because the government approved the rice importation, Nestor Puangco, chief of the foreign operations division of the NFA’s grains marketing and operations department, validated the shipping documents of the imported rice on March 4.

To back up its validation of the rice shipment, the NFA told the customs bureau it would settle the corresponding duties and taxes for the shipment as provided for by law.

But the Bureau of Customs is still holding the shipment, records show.

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In other rice shipments that didn’t have the imprimatur of the NFA, the customs bureau appears to look the other way.

There are rumors within the bureau that the mother of a customs official is behind some of the smuggled rice shipments.

Needless to say, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon should look into those rumors and identify the customs official.

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We serve and protect—Philippine National Police motto.

On the night of March 10, Randy Rejesus, 27, was stopped at a checkpoint at General Trias, Cavite.

Rejesus, who was driving his motorcycle, had just come from a birthday party and was on his way home. A witness, whom I will just identify as Peter, says he saw Rejesus being beaten up by several policemen at the checkpoint.

Rejesus was then taken to the police station near the checkpoint. He was never heard from again.

Rejesus’ sister, Marissa, came to us at “Isumbong Mo kay Tulfo” to report her brother’s disappearance.

My staff went to work. They found the eyewitness by discreetly asking around.

As an aside, my all-female staff makes better investigators than the ones in most police stations.

“Isumbong” brought the eyewitness to the Cavite Provincial Police Office where, through a photo gallery, the eyewitness identified the policemen who allegedly ganged up on Rejesus: PO1 Rogie Fabrigas Cayaga, PO1 Allan John Ferrer, PO2 John Leo Amon Francisco and PO3 John-John Dichoso Pilapil.

Can we, ordinary citizens, trust Cayaga, Ferrer, Francisco and Pilapil to serve and protect us?

If what our eyewitness is saying is true, the entire force of the General Trias police station should be made accountable for Rejesus’ disappearance since he was last seen at the station.

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Reelectionist Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano was elected the first time to the Senate in 2007 because of his tirades against the abuses committed by then First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.

Now, someone has accused persons in the barangay of his brother, Barangay Capt. Lino Cayetano of Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, of being abusive.

A taxi driver, Noel Bulaay, complained to me that he was taken to Cayetano’s barangay hall where he was allegedly divested of his day’s earnings and P5,000, for a minor traffic incident.

The incident happened in Pasay City, way out of Lino Cayetano’s jurisdiction.

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