Not everyone’s happy with Angelito Alvarez departure
The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) is mourning the sacking of Angelito Alvarez, citing the progress the Bureau of Customs (BOC) had made in curbing smuggling during his term as commissioner.
In a statement issued on Thursday, FPI chair Jesus Arranza said it was sad that Alvarez had to leave, considering the “good rapport and strong working relationship” he had established with local manufacturers to curb smuggling.
“Recognizing early the crucial role of the private sector, Commissioner Alvarez strengthened the technical assistance given by industry experts who assist the government in monitoring technically smuggled imported goods,” he said.
Nevertheless, President Aquino gave Alvarez his walking papers on Tuesday, saying he had not done the job at the BOC.
In Beijing, China, where he is on a five-day state visit, Mr. Aquino on Wednesday told Filipino reporters covering his visit: “He had a year to do the things that I tasked [him to do] and I’m not satisfied.”
But for the FPI, Arranza said, Alvarez’s short stint at the BOC was a true public-private partnership.
He said FPI and customs officials held monthly meetings to map out strategies against smuggling and conducted seminars to enhance the technical knowledge of BOC personnel, particularly on the modus operandi of smugglers.
Arranza said the FPI also regularly gave the BOC information that led to the apprehension of smuggled products like steel, sugar, vehicles, resins, onions, used clothing, cement and palm oil.
Nevertheless, Arranza said, the FPI would give the same support to the next customs commissioner, “especially if the appointee is focused and dedicated in putting a stop to smuggling,” which costs the government potential losses of P127 billion a year.
The other day, Sen. Panfilo Lacson revealed the “Friday 3 o’clock habit” at the Manila pier.
This was when, he said, customs officials and employees met to divvy up the proceeds from the bribes paid by brokers and importers to allow their shipments in with a minimum of payment to the government.
On Thursday, Lacson said Alvarez merely smiled when the senator confronted him sometime ago about the Friday “get-togethers.”
“I asked him pointblank whether the Friday meetings were still going on and he didn’t reply. He didn’t give me an answer. He just smiled,” Lacson told reporters in an interview.
Asked what this meant, the senator said: “He smiled. Eh di meron (So they must be going on).” With a report from Norman Bordadora
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