Palace confirms Aquino, Lacson talks on oil smuggling



President Benigno Aquino III. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang confirmed on Saturday there have been talks between President Benigno Aquino III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson about a watchdog body to combat oil smuggling that the former national police chief might lead.

Speaking on state-run radio, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Mr. Aquino had taken a more aggressive role in fighting oil smuggling following reports of rampant fuel smuggling under the watch of Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon at the Bureau of Customs.

A series of reports published by the INQUIRER said the government loses P30 billion to P40 billion in tax revenue every year due to the smuggling of petroleum products into the country through major ports and special economic zones.

Former Sen. Jamby Madrigal on Friday proposed the establishment of an agency to combat oil smuggling and suggested that it be headed by Lacson, former chief of the Philippine National Police.

Valte said President Aquino and Lacson had begun talks, but she did not have information about the discussions.

After elections

Valte did not say whether Lacson was being considered as head of a new agency for fighting oil smugglers or as a replacement for Biazon at the customs bureau, but a top Palace official said Thursday that Mr. Aquino would deal with Biazon after the elections in May.

“Wait after the elections for Cabinet movements,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to journalists.


Administration bets’ chances

The official acknowledged, however, that left undealt with, the smuggling problem could affect the chances of the administration’s candidates making a sweep of the senatorial election next month.

“Perhaps that’s the pressure that the (Liberal Party) has to address too,” the official said.

Lacson, whose term in the Senate ends in June, has “in principle” accepted a job offered by the President. But he does not see the necessity of setting up a new agency to help the customs bureau fight oil smuggling.

Such an agency “might be unwieldy,” he told the Inquirer in a text message.

Biazon, he said, knows his job but he needs to be protected from politicians who use their influence to get their people appointed to the customs bureau.

Lacson said Biazon and the head of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Kim Henares, had the competence to deal with oil smuggling.


Crackdown easy

“They only need to be insulated from the self-serving interests of abusive politicians who meddle in their day-to-day operations and, worse, even in the assignment of key personnel in the Bureau of Customs,” Lacson said.

Lacson said earlier that cracking down on smuggling should be quite easy.

“It is not rocket science actually. It starts with an efficient collation of data and records of inventory, sales importation and tax payments, which are all available anyway, then make accountable all personnel who have been remiss in their duties regardless of oversight, inefficiency or deliberateness,” he said.

Sen. Francis Escudero, an independent reelectionist running on President Aquino’s senatorial ticket, earlier urged top-down changes in the Bureau of Customs because of the agency’s failure to check smuggling, not only of petroleum products but also of steel.


‘Putting out fires’

Escudero said the only explanation for continued smuggling was the collusion of insiders at the customs bureau.

In an interview in Davao City last month, President Aquino said he would make “minor changes” in the Cabinet after the elections on May 13.

He said Lacson’s role would be as a troubleshooter for him.

“Initially, it will be like a fireman putting out fires. So he will not have a specific agency that he’ll report to,” Mr. Aquino said.

“But when there is a particular group that needs my undivided attention, he will be the one providing that undivided attention. But we still have to work on details (of his assignment),” he said.

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  • randyaltarejos

    I guessed it correctly when I said that there’s probability that Lacson is expected to head a proposed anti-smuggling body in the P-Noy administration. But the anti-smuggling body will not only focus on oil smuggling but all other smuggling activities in the country. My only prayer is that it shouldn’t be like the former PASG, which was allegedly used to protect a select few of smugglers in the country.

  • Albert Einstien

    I endorse lacson for OVERALL ANTI-GRAFT & CORRUPTION CZAR…..oil smuggling is ALSO part ( small portion ) of GRAFT & CORRUPTION… i HOPE he will NOT SPARE even the KKK’s behind the SMUGGLING not only on OIL…but ALL SMUGGLING ACTIVITIES…. he must EXPOSE KKK protectors & GRAFTERS……..!

    • wawa2172

      Commot Albert, how can Ping expose the KKK when he belong to the kapatiran. Common guy wake up.

  • wawa2172

    Who said its Mar Roxas against Binay. Mar would still be in the running as VP and Lacson will be LP bet in 2016 presidential election. Raffy Biazon is on his way out, kulang siya sa tapang to deal with the KKK whose abusing the customs operation. Lahat yata nang masisibang tao sa customs ay mga tauhan of those sitting in power. Even General Lim (not the mayoral candidate but the known coup plotter) power and idalism daw did not work, puro dada but kulang pala sa gawa. It is time to replace Raffy and sama na si Lim. Si Ping sa customs, well, tiyak wala ring pag babago, patatahimikin lang ang mag sasalita ayos na.

    • ranjoranido

      sino ang gusto mo ilagay para may pagbabago? puro ka dada bobo.

      • wawa2172

        Mas bobo ang mag endorse kay lacson, raffy at lim..he he. ikaw yon.

      • ranjoranido

        sino nga ang dapat ilagay? puro ka kontra wala kang maisip na tao na pwede ilagay. puro ka kontra at batikos wala ka naman solusyon. magbigay ka ng tao na pwede sige nga.

      • wawa2172

        Ok you want me to Kris na lang..ala nang iba. What I am saying is huwag, na yung mga ex-politician. Promote na lang si Gen. Lim to replace raffy.

  • julieboy

    CUSTOMS.BIR,DPWH has always been the cash cow for the corrupt.Pres.Nonoy knows all this and i suppose is trying his best to see to it that the right people head the department.It takes a lot of guts and will power to do right when you head this departments.Lacson has the guts and hopefully the will power,Henares seems to be sharp and sincere,can she stand the heat from the rich and powerful.Singson seems to be doing his job and watching his back.Honesty,Sincerity and and will power to do good is all that is required.Lets hope things change when the changes are made,thats all the filipino people want.

  • Hellomr

    Dapat lang na malaman ng taong bayan kung sino politician ang nakikialam sa malaman ng mga botante … We hate politician na nakikialam sa BOC…..

  • farmerpo

    Lacson will be able to quite down the issue of smuggling but cannot or will not prevent it. His constituency is the moneyed trader. Traders’ money financed his presdential sortie, remember? Besides, splitting a single job is not productive. Magtuturuan lang ang mga yan pag pumalpak. If Biazon is not cutting it, replace him or support him to the hilt. The best of men, when it comes to BIR, CUSTOMS becomes inutil because of pressure from above. When big money is involved, the political mafia takes a firm hold. Without autonomy or direct link to the President, no one can survive, even the best of the best, Willie Parayno comes to mind, he did his best 101% for 101% frustration. Political appointees/recommendees pervade the very structure of the BOC. Revamp it and hire on merit not on recommendations of polticians, most especially.

  • dragon

    marami na ang hindi naniniwala sa daang matuwid,kulang kasi sa gawa at puro lang salita.mamayan muna hindi mamaya na,ang boss ng bayan,laging nganga na lang.

    • wawa2172

      The boss voted for Noy, reason that he is the president. If they complain it is their right kaysa tumahimik na lang as if were in martial law era.

  • epros

    Is wa—–wa in the payroll?

  • bhoystaana

    use lacson not only in smuggling but also to stop crimes like riding in tandem and the robberies.

  • boybakal

    Lacson is old for the job.
    Oil smuggling is too greasy for Lacson, criminal is his forte.
    As they say….best fit for the job is his experience and Lacson experience is all about police and criminal.

    We have an abundance of CPA Lawyer….they know how to measure legally.

  • speaksoftlylove

    1. 30 billion rice smuggling each year;

    2. 32 billion agri products smuggling each year;

    3. Oil smuggling resulting in 40 billion loss of revenues each year.

    And, the great palace imp is extremely satisfied with Ruffy Biazon
    with the foregoing issues which are tantamount to economic
    sabotage..Added to these is the failed promise of passing the FOI bill,
    obviously to prevent the people from knowing that all big time
    corruption has the blessings of the palace.

    Other issues like the protection of erring cabinet members,
    appointment of shady officials like Padaca and an failed appointment of
    another commissioner, Now the brat is even planning to copy the wisdom
    of his archenemy’s “midnight appointment” which cost the seat of CJ
    Corona, by planning to appoint two commissioners in violation of the
    election ban on midnight appointments. Added to this are the “Sabah
    Conspiracy” with Malisya and MILF, not to mention financial support to
    the MILF and the court martial of AFP officers instead of serving the
    warrant to a wanted MILF member. All these issues had been swept by
    media under rags, whether deliberately or it’s just because the issues
    are filing so fast one after another.

    To top it all, SWS and Pulse Asia say that the people are satisfied.
    Satisfied of these follies? As to the election, everybody is bracing for
    a messy one because of the hocus PCOS. To ensure the hoodwinking of the
    people they are using once and again the ready and dependable SWS and
    Pulse Asia propaganda outfit, publishing surveys one after another to
    create a scenario that Team Malisya is leading despite of the fact that
    NOT ONE of their political sorties attracted a crowd greater than the
    UNA sorties.PNoy’s own candidates even shun his political sorties with
    good reason. Bakit pa sila pupunta kung nilalangaw palagi? Buti pa
    mangampanya na lang magisa. Only those that are trailing are always
    present. Now, they even conveniently used Comelec not only to prevent
    the Church from posting their Team Patay tarpaulins but also preventing
    political motorcades “allegedly because of traffic jams” but the purpose
    is to prevent the people from witnessing the massive crown that UNA’s
    sorties will draw and thereby reveal another proof that the surveys are
    fraud. The administration is becoming desperate because of their own

    And, the list just goes on and on, ztefertilizerscam, dagdagan mo na lang.

  • Charles Lynel F. Joven

    well, Lacson knows graft and corruption too well, because he had his fun times during Erap’s reign in Malacanang…!!!

  • DannyGane

    Pres. Pnoy, please solve the Mindanao Power Crisis before your term ends…

  • butsokoypasaw

    Ping is the best choice . . I would spend every penny to have him in the presidency . . democratically or otherwise when time is ripe . . . He’s the only one left with balls . . .

  • hagnonoyboy

    Mag-ingat si Biazon, baka maging Robredo sya…dahil si Lacson nuon gustong maging DILG; tepok si Robredo. Ngayong naman gusto yata ni Lacson magBOC…ingat si Biazon!

  • penoy2012

    Madaling yayaman si Pinky. Mababawi na din nya agad yung mga pork barrel na di niya tinanggap. At hindi pa halata.

  • Maldi2

    Why that persistent talk to put in another bading (Pinky) into Panot’s bading-filled cabinet? LOL! Does the saying, birds of the same feather, flies and talk indeed together?

  • disqusted0fu

    Most of Pnoy’s decisions are highly questionable, and this one is certainly not an exception. Whatever this new discussions with Lacson is, for sure it is a decision based on friendship and allegiance, not on performance and work ethic.

  • disqusted0fu

    Smuggling has been a huge problem ever since, for sure the administration was well aware of this even before the news broke. But as usual, Pnoy and his people always have to be extremely scrutinized first before they start doing something.

    That’s the problem with the Aquino administration, it always acts too late! And when they do, their efforts are not even close to enough because they only let their mouths do the work.

  • JasonBieber

    Really? Lacson?? Does PNoy really think that smuggling will be resolved if he puts someone like Lacson in charge of it?

    must have a short memory. Lacson is not the most trustworthy individual
    available for the job. But maybe Lacson has done enough to be
    assimilated into PNoy’s KKK that it doesn’t matter what type of person
    he is. As long as you are in PNoy’s KKK then you can do anything in the

  • Nisky Ocsave

    Lacson the murderer that got away with (Dacer/ Corbeto murder case) until he faced up with this, he still have a lot of blood in his hands and it would not wash away.

  • Nisky Ocsave

    If I were me the president I will not have anything to do with him, Lacson lack of integrity will tarnish Aquino’s good name.

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