Customs examiners opened wrong bag
TWO BUREAU of Customs employees assigned at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) have been reprimanded for breach of protocol after they inspected cargo containing items for the state visit of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
Naia Customs district collector Edgar Macabeo has apologized for the “honest mistake,” but bureau examiner Pompeo Manalo and his immediate supervisor, Emily Balatbat, who were responsible for opening the diplomatic pouch consigned to the Japanese Embassy in Manila, will be sanctioned for the “unauthorized examination.”
Macabeo said diplomatic pouches had immunity and “cannot be examined without authorization from the [customs] commissioner and the district collector.”
The diplomatic pouches, which contained official Japanese documents and, among other items, bottles of rice wine for the Imperial Couple’s welcome reception, arrived at the Pair Cargo Customs Bonded Warehouse on Nov. 30 and were released on Dec. 2, apparently after strict scrutiny by Manalo, Macabeo said.
According to Manalo, he examined the diplomatic pouch on orders of Balatbat, chief of the composite unit at the Pair Cargo warehouse.
A diplomatic pouch or bag is used for carrying items and correspondence between a diplomatic mission and its government and is immune from search or seizure. It may take any form as long as it is marked and has a lock. Jeannette I. Andrade
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