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Real issue behind the BOC controversy

05:11 AM August 07, 2017

The editorial of the Inquirer titled “Hydra-headed controversy” (8/5/17) is another obvious effort to sidetrack discussion of the real issues in connection with the P6.4 billion worth of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) smuggled under the nose of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

While pretending to be fair by presenting both sides of the issue at the start, the editorial proceeded to discuss at length Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon’s accusation of influence-peddling against lawmakers. Only toward the end did the editorial mention the responsibility of Customs in the smuggling of the 605 kilos of shabu into the country.

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More telling of its real intention is that the editorial gave Faeldon and Customs the benefit of the doubt, saying the huge shabu smuggling could be a case of simple botched procedures or “business as usual” at the notoriously corrupt agency.

Yet, the Inquirer gave no such quarter for Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and the other members of the House of Representatives who explained there was no compulsion attached to their endorsements. Without an iota of evidence to the contrary, the Inquirer dismissed such explanation as “disingenuous.” The stark contrast in treatment betrays the deliberate effort at diversion.

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Not content with that, the Inquirer also made the malicious claim that the squeeze against the BOC started when Faeldon rejected Alvarez’s endorsement. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The fact is that it’s not only the House of Representatives that is investigating the BOC for negligence and corruption. After the Senate blue ribbon hearing, Sen. Richard Gordon had this to say to Faeldon and his minions: “This is really the gang who can’t shoot straight.

Either you’re incompetent or you are corrupt. That’s the whole point here.”

What Congress found out was that not only did Customs disregard the strict provisions of the law on the chain in the custody of drug evidence; they also raided the Valenzuela warehouse without a proper warrant.

The ineptitude of Customs alarmed our lawmakers particularly after Philippine National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa himself
said shabu is no longer manufactured here and that “the supply of illegal drugs in the Philippines is coming from overseas, and some are brought through normal [Bureau of] Customs procedures.”

Several senators and lawmakers even suspected the botched shabu “raid” made possible by a “tip” from China was a smokescreen in a conspiracy to hide bigger shabu shipments into the country, as the BOC did not bother to go after at least three other containers that arrived together with the shabu shipment.

Apart from largely ignoring the overwhelming evidence of the ineptitude of the BOC, the Inquirer also glaringly omitted any reference to Faeldon’s hiring of 28 athletes, paid for public relations purposes, but assigned either to his office or for intelligence work. Faeldon even claimed they were the “most effective intelligence information gatherers.” Really?

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The real issue here is the failure of the BOC in its mission to protect our country from illegal contraband, particularly drugs and its ability or inability to collect the proper taxes. Any bid to divert focus away from this crucial issue is a disservice to the nation.

DARREN DE JESUS, head executive assistant, Office of the Speaker

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TAGS: Bureau of Customs, Customs shabu shipment, Darren de Jesus, Inquirer letters, Nicanor Faeldon
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