Customs examiners probed after opening Japanese royal couple’s cargo
Two customs examiners assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Pair Cargo Customs Bonded Warehouse are now being investigated for breach of protocol after they inspected cargo containing items for the state visit of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
Bureau of Customs (BOC) Deputy Commissioner Arturo Lachica said Pompeo Manalo and Emily Balatbat will be transferred to another detail pending results of the probe.
At the same time, Lachica said an orientation and training has been conducted for all Customs personnel.
Opening, inspecting, and detaining diplomatic bags and packages are prohibited under Article 27 (3) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
The two employees have opened the cargo for the Japanese Emperor and Empress containing official Japanese documents and bottles of rice wine for the Imperial Couple’s welcome reception.
“We cannot relieve or suspend the employees without the corresponding charge filed against them. We have a process to follow,” Lachica said.
He added that they have also placed X-rays and additional rules to prevent a repeat of the incident.
“Kasi binuksan yan sa warehouse—hindi sa airport mismo, hindi sa passenger. It was opened as cargo. We are mandating all cargo terminals that accept these shipments na mag-install sila ng X-ray machine. The same thing we will be doing sa balikbayan boxes. Para maiwasan na yun nabubuksan,” he added.
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