Latest Stories

Palace confirms Aquino, Lacson talks on oil smuggling

By ,

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.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Oil Smuggling , President Aquino , Sen. Panfilo Lacson , Smuggling

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Gigi Reyes back to face charges
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. In the know: Gigi Reyes
  4. SC suspends proctor in 2011 bar exams
  5. Senator Pimentel backs German think tank’s stand vs dynasties
  6. Bar proctor suspended for photographing test papers
  7. Collector Danny Garcia says Inquirer worth more than news
  8. Meteor shower to light up PH skies
  9. What Went Before: Enrile denies Gigi Reyes was ‘other woman’
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  8. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  9. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Tagle: Christ’s resurrection a message of hope to faithful
  • Aquino vows to intensify anti-corruption drive further
  • Unease in Vatican over cardinal’s luxury flat—report
  • Nepal calls off search for missing guides on Everest—official
  • Pope’s Easter Message ‘Urbi et Orbi’
  • Sports

  • Rain or Shine grabs No.4, sends Ginebra to 8th
  • Red-hot Alaska rips injury-depleted San Mig Coffee
  • Pacquiao courtesy call to Aquino set for Monday
  • Nick Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk
  • Teague scores 28 as Hawks soar past Pacers in Game 1
  • Lifestyle

  • Angono petroglyphs in danger of disappearing
  • Britain’s baby Prince George visits Australian zoo
  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit
  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Marketplace