DAVAO CITY—Due to the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao until the end of the year and the threat of terrorism, the city government is eyeing the revival of the operation of the Bureau of Customs’ Designated Examination Area.
The move also aims to stop corruption in the BOC and the entry of illegal drugs in the city.
Davao City Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang said Wednesday the city hopes the legal battle between Customs and the private DEA operator, Rodolfo Reta, would soon be over so that Reta’s DEA—located just in front of the Sasa wharf and the BOC Port of Davao office—could finally resume operation.
Reta was granted a 25-year contract by the BOC to operate the DEA back in 2009. However, it was unceremoniously stopped by Customs after Reta reported misdeclaration of goods in some of the container vans passing thru the multimillion x-ray machine of the DEA.
Instead of commending Reta for the discovery, his contract was rescinded by then-BOC Commissioner Napoleon Morales.
Anju Nereo Castigador, the Davao Port District Collector at the time, also padlocked the operation of Reta’s DEA, Acquarius Container Yard.
The incident led to the filing of charges and counter-charges between Reta and the BOC that ultimately led to Castigador’s dismissal from service as ordered by the Ombudsman.
Dayanghirang said the x-ray machine in the DEA could very well monitor all contraband that pass thru the ports of Davao, thus is essential to the city’s security.
“The contraband may come in and out here in Davao City so we have to enhance our seaports,” he said. “I hope that the customs can resolve this, and make use with the DEA since it can prevent or identify contrabands that will endangered the residents of the city.”
In November 2010, then-Army 10th Infantry Division head Major General Rey Leonardo Guerrero—now the Eastern Mindanao Command head—likewise reiterated the importance of the DEA to the region’s security.
This was after an intelligence report said terrorists planned to target military and commercial aircraft with the use of rocket-propelled grenades and high-powered sniper rifles, like a .50 caliber Barrett. The RPG and the rifles would have been allegedly smuggled to the area thru the city ports.
“It was assessed that the existing unresolved issue concerning the Davao Examination Area (DEA) could affect the integrity of the examinations/inspections being conducted on arriving cargo at the Davao City port,” Guerrero said.
“It is in this light that this Unit recommends for the immediate resolution of the issue at the DEA to preclude any incident of smuggling of firearms and explosives by terrorists into Davao City,” he added.