ON TARGET

What’s update on missing vans probe?

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Speaker Sonny Belmonte’s name has been unfairly dragged into the issue of a so-called “padrino” system at the Bureau of Customs.

Belmonte, reports say, exerted his influence in having his brother, Ricardo, assigned as collector of the Manila International Container Port (MICP).

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Ricardo “Boysie” Belmonte, a career customs official who started at the bottom and got the juicy post because he was an efficient collector.

Ricardo did very well in all his previous assignments, including as collector of the Cebu Port.

The Cebu assignment was his last designation, before he was appointed to the MICP.

In all those assignments he was never recommended by, nor did he seek help from his brother, according to customs insiders.

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But these same customs insiders claim reports that Rogel Gatchalian, collector of the Port of Manila, and Carlos So, collector of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, have strong political connections are true.

Gatchalian, allegedly a mediocre collector, is a protégé of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile,

So, who’s reportedly one of the most unpopular officials at customs, is a recommendee of his church, the influential Iglesia ni Cristo, my sources say.

Is it the fault of Boysie Belmonte that his brother, Sonny, happens to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives?

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Almost two years have passed since the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman the results of its probe into the 2,000 container vans that went missing while being transhipped to the Port of Batangas from the Port of Manila.

Among those recommended for investigation for their alleged complicity was Director Fernandino Tuazon of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS).

What happened to the Ombudsman’s investigation?

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Sometimes, newspapers make wrong headlines so that a person who is featured in a story is cast in a bad light.

An example of such a headline appeared in this paper’s front page on Wednesday: Whistle-blower links Alcala to pork barrel scam.

The person referred to is Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.

But the pork barrel whistle-blower, Merlina P. Sunas, never linked Alcala to the pork barrel scam, but a certain Ms Agawin, allegedly from the secretary’s office.

Alcala said Agawin never worked in his office, but in the finance department of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

In short, Agawin is not directly under Alcala.

Agawin, according to whistle-blower Sunas, was Janet Lim-Napoles’ contact at the DA for converting the pork barrel of lawmakers into cold cash.

Alcala says he has never met or spoken to Napoles.

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A Filipino housemaid was reportedly raped in the residence of Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines Akinyemi Fahrounde.

The alleged rapist is said to be   a personal assistant of the ambassador.

To add salt to the wound, he allegedly infected the poor woman with a sexually transmitted disease.

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