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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Smuggling, corruption: Will they ever end?

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Senate probe in ‘aid of legislation;? My gulay, they are becoming a comedy of errors

One of the most applauded government concerns, especially as secretary of agriculture of President Marcos Jr., in his second SONA was his promise to end smuggling of agricultural products.

In fact, BBM was emphatic when he said the “days of smuggling of agricultural products are numbered.”

Smuggling of any kind would not be possible unless done in connivance with corrupt Customs personnel.

When I was covering Customs as a Business Editor of the defunct Philippines Herald, I knew that smugglers would not be stupid to smuggle anything through Customs without the connivance of corrupt Customs officials and personnel.

And, often, smugglers have political connections to guarantee them political protection.

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And whenever there are suspicions that smuggled goods are noticed, smugglers are ever ready to have a small portion of the smuggled goods confiscated by Customs itself.

Santa Banana, that is one of the gimmicks of smugglers to protect corrupt Customs people!

Thus, it boils down to corruption.

In the case of smugglers of agricultural products, people in the know claim people behind the smuggling operate like a Mafia-like cartel, that from the start of operations when they load smuggled-to-be products until they unload them in designated ports like Subic, Batangas, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, etc., the smugglers already have arranged with certain people at Customs to be able to unload the smuggled goods, and to unload them in pre-designated warehouses in Bulacan, Cavite and Batangas for ready distribution to markets.

In other words, smugglers operate like a Mafia-like cartel, and, whenever necessary, smugglers hoard and manipulate prices.

Thus, it all boils down to corruption, a concern of all administrations from the time of the late Apo ElpidioQuirino until now.

In a Pulse-Asia non-commissioned survey, no less than 84 percent of those who responded saw the urgent need to strengthen the law on corruption.

Like in smuggling, a form of corruption involving Customs, the penalty should take the form for economic sabotage.

As BBM promised “the days of agri-smugglers are numbered.”

There should be a law that makes smuggling of agri-products, hoarding and manipulation of prices a form of economic sabotage.

As I said, smugglers would not be so stupid unless they are in connivance with corrupt Customs officials and personnel, and often they have political protection.

The most dangerous aspect of the Mafia-style cartel smuggling agri-products is that they also smuggle illegal drugs from China.

Duterte-Xi tete-a-tete

When the Chinese President invited former President Duterte to Beijing, it’s for sure Xi and Duterte did not just talk about the weather.

The Chinese President must have invited Duterte because either he wanted him to remain an ally to China as a private citizen assuming that as a former president, Duterte still carried some influence on foreign affairs matters.

Recall that Duterte had a pivot in foreign relations with both China and Russia in the name of an independent foreign policy since, by law, only the President has the power as the sole spokesman on foreign policies.

As such, the former President has not only the duty, but an obligation, to tell the Filipino public what he and Xi talked about.

For one, China is has an aggressive stance in the West Philippine Sea, often encroaching on the many territorial disputes with other Southeast Asia countries, including the Philippines.

That is of national interest.

Unfortunately, when Duterte ended his visit to Xi, he did not even care to inform President Marcos Jr. about it, who should have included that tete-a-tete with Xi in his SONA address since anything that the China President says about Philippine-China relations is of important consequence for or against the country, my gulay!

What bothers me as a Filipino is the deafening silence of Duterte regarding his visit to China which was reportedly personal – against the backdrop of continued bullying of China at the West Philippine Sea and the continued harassment of Filipino fisherfolk who simply want to earn a living.

I am sure the personal visit of Duerte had something to do with our bilateral relations with China.

And I’m also certain the meeting of Xi and Duterte, who was reportedly accorded honors like a visiting Chief of State, has implications on our foreign relations with China.

PNP ties on illegal drugs

I find it rather amusing or even laughable that out of the 943 Philippine National Police initially asked by Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos to submit their courtesy resignations because of alleged ties on illegal drugs, only 18 of them were accepted — three generals and 15 colonels, who had sometime or another been connected with the war of Duterte on illegal drugs.

This rigmarole becomes a comedy with the acceptance of courtesy resignations only.

Santa Banana, 18 of them were found having ties with illegal drugs, my gulay!

And no less than 15 of them continue to be in office, while only three high-ranking PNP officers are no longer in office.

Now, the comedy continues with General Benjamin Acorda asking whether those whose resignations had been accepted should lose their posts or get kicked out of the PNP.

Why, Santa Banana, should this question be asked when they should be charged criminally and put in jail with the key thrown into the polluted Pasig River!

The President as the top cop should demand more courtesy resignations if he wants a thorough cleansing of the police.

BBM, I am sure, knows full well that the PNP needs a total cleansing if the people’s trust in the police must be restored.

The President also knows that illegal drugs continue to proliferate throughout the country because there’s big money in the smuggling of illegal drugs and the manufacture of crystal meth known as shabu locally.

They exist because they are protected either by the police or some politicians.

With these, BBM must show his zero tolerance because of rampant corruption.

As I said earlier, some 84 percent of respondents in a Pulse-Asia non-commissioned survey even want the laws on corruption strengthened.

Mister President, not only the smuggling of agri-products, but also illegal drugs must stop.

Show us the “New Face” of your war on illegal drugs!

Probe again

Santa Banana, the Senate wants to investigate that tragedy at Laguna Lake that happened during the height of super typhoon Egay that led to the drowning of 27 riders when their boat tilted to one side and capsized!

The Senate wants to pinpoint accountability in aid of legislation.

Yes, I agree that there must be accountability, since the boat was good for only 42 seating capacity but was clearly overloaded with some 70 passengers.

Two Coast Guard personnel who allowed the boat to leave had since been sacked.

And the accountability is clearly with the boat owner and with the Coast Guard that allowed it to leave during a typhoon.

Yes, there is need to investigate, but to what end, since the accountability clearly points to the boat owner and the Coast Guard?

What bothers me is there have been so many other probes by the Senate, pointing to accountability, but how many of the culprits have been prosecuted and jailed?

I can cite two, like the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp, a scam during the time of President Duterte, whose accountability led up to Malacanang because one of the Pharmally executives was an economic advisor of Duterte and yet nobody was prosecuted and went to jail.

There was also that probe involving the purchase of outdated laptops clearly overpriced by the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service, but nothing happened to it.

Nothing.

Senate probe in “aid of legislation?” My gulay, they are becoming a comedy of errors!

No wonder many people are slowly and surely losing faith in the Senate with all these Senate probes.

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