Apart from false declaration and lane-switching, a new modus called “swinging” is now being employed by syndicates to smuggle contrabands into the country, Rep. Jericho Nograles said Sunday.
He said “swinging” had allegedly become possible at the Mindanao International Container Terminal Services Inc. at the Phividec Industrial Estate complex when some Customs officials decided to transfer the mobile X-ray machine out of the designated examination area.
The decision to transfer the machine would make it easier for smugglers to “swing” their containers in and out of the MICT, Nograles said.
He said this was also very dangerous because of the continuing threat of terrorism in Mindanao.
Congress has decided to extend martial law in Mindanao due to the security problems there.
“Due to martial law in Mindanao, the MICT and other seaports and free ports in Mindanao must have strict monitoring of incoming and outgoing shipments,” Nograles said.
“This questionable decision to transfer the X-ray is truly very alarming and highly suspicious.”
Nograles said what was even more suspicious was the absence of a memorandum coming from Customs’ head office that could have prompted the transfer of the X-ray machine.
He said he informed Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero about the alleged irregularity on Nov. 20, but nothing happened.
“This representation is in receipt of reports that X-ray machine of the BoC in Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, was moved away from the designated examination area since 10 September 2018,” Nograles said in his letter.
“The lack of proper inspection is alarming as it is nor just violative of the laws, rules, and regulations, it allows contraband to enter Mindanao.”
Just recently, 51 shipping containers filled with garbage from South Korean were discovered and seized at the MICT.
“This shows the brazenness of these smugglers. Trying to smuggle in 51 containers filled with garbage shows their confidence that they can pass through customs. Something must have gone wrong along the way and that’s why the shipment was discovered,” Nograles said.
He said containers were being snuck out of the port to be unloaded in nearby warehouses, and then brought back to the MICT for dummy inspection and documentation.
“They call this swinging operation or swinging. In this modus, no shipment is missing since all containers are all accounted for. Containers that contain smuggled goods are unloaded before documentation and this becomes possible because the containers no longer pass through the examination area,” Nograles said.