“One would think that a government dedicated to the straight and narrow path would concern itself with the truth rather than look for excuses to continue to employ those who cannot explain how they got so rich!”
by Ducky Paredes
If the comic-book hero, Superman, has x-ray eyes, so does our Bureau of Customs (BOC), which has huge x-ray scanners that can see what is inside those steel container vans and the crates and boxes inside the vans. These machines were acquired in 2006 under the Non-Intrusive Container Inspection System Project, which is now simply referred to as the X-ray Inspection Project (XIP).
The obvious advantage of the machines is that they do away with physical examination that not only takes time but is also subject to human error, innocent or mostly deliberate.
In the recent brouhaha about the attempt to smuggle luxury cars and motorcycles in the country by way of (what sounds like an attempt to create another urban legend) chopped up parts placed inside Balikbayan boxes, the question was raised as to how these could have escaped the scrutiny of the BOC’s x-ray machines.
Luxury vehicle dealer Lynard Allan Bigcas has an answer to that, but those Balikbayan boxes would have entered our ports during hours when inspection operations, including the use of x-ray machines, were already off. Of course, to time this right, the consignee would have had to have the full cooperation of insiders in the BOC. They would have simply passed the shipment through without inspecting the boxes, which would have been too heavy for household goods and would ordinarily have aroused suspicion. Of course, with the cooperation of Customs security personnel who have been trained and after having been given the proper motivation, would not have bothered to inspect such special shipments.
Actually, though, even if Balikbayan boxes had been brought in during normal operating hours, the shipment would, ordinarily, not be scanned since Balikbayan boxes are categorized as consolidated shipments which are filed under the BOC’s informal entry division and thus, would not have been covered by the electronic selectivity system.
Of course, when the x-ray machines are in operation, they are and have been proven to be valuable instruments in detecting items that are illegal in nature or those misdeclared to avoid payment of taxes.
In her report to Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez, Atty. Lourdes Mangaoang who heads the XIP, pointed out that from May 2007 to April 2011, the approximate amount of the articles seized with the use of the X-ray machines had a total market value of P3 billion! Among those seized were chemicals used in the production of prohibited drugs, luxury vehicles, blank DVDs and CDs, cellular phones and optical media manufacturing materials.
At present, the BOC has only 30 units of scanning equipment distributed in different ports. There is obviously a need to maximize the use of these machines and to procure more units. Studies have shown that the benefits of using the machines far outweigh the costs. The benefits come in the form of container security fees collected, and the peso values of detected cargo that are prohibited/dangerous, misclassified, misdeclared or lack the required documents and licenses.
Incidentally, not all container vans that go through the Port of Manila and the Manila International Container Port Customs are scanned by the machines. The vans are electronically tagged through a random selectivity system, and only those that are tagged go through the machines. The XIP, Atty. Mangaong points out, has no hand in establishing the criteria on the selection of goods that will be x-ray scanned. That is the function of the Risk Management Group which is under the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service.
I am told, in explanation, that in noting in an earlier column commissioner Alvarez’s reinstatement of Jose Yuchongco as head of the BOC’s Enforcement and Security Service, I did not explain that the role of Commissioner Alvarez on this matter was merely to implement the order from the Department of Finance which, in turn, used as basis for its order, the ruling of the Ombudsman dismissing the old and rehashed charges filed against Yuchongco.
If the charges are old and re-hashed (meaning that they had been filed before and were earlier ignored or dismissed), does this mean that they can no longer be true? One would think that a government dedicated to the straight and narrow path would concern itself with the truth rather than look for excuses to continue to employ those who cannot explain how they got so rich!
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We have a letter from Palawan on a recent column:” “You are correct that Palawan’s population is only about 900,000.
“However, the transient population is about a quarter of a million (retirees, expats, businessmen, tourists and foreigners/permanent residents) who have witnessed the devastation done by several big mining firms specifically in the towns of Bataraza & Rizal (by Rio Tuba Nickel in Southern Palawan) and Vulcan Mining/Republic Glass/Asahi) in Roxas and San Vicente.
“For over 45 years, all these mining firms extracted so much mining resources in Palawan and have done nothing but the blatant rape and destruction of the mountains of Palawan.
“Had they helped in building schools and hospitals for the very people uprooted by their operations like what Benguet Mines did in setting up schools in their operation areas and hospitals/clinics, people would have looked up to them with respect.
“Moreover, Mr. Dorado and Mr. Brimo are just stooges of these big mining companies (carpet baggers) who are paid to window dress the activities of said big time schemers. Mr. Brimo is formerly connected with PCSD and Mr. Dorado is a consultant to people connected to the Mining group and they are not even Palawenos. They just came to Palawan like yesterday, few months etc.
“This is a very sad thing about Palawan, people like them just don’t care.
“There were aerial maps before (Certeza Aerial Mapping) during the time of Gov. Socrates that show these mountains to be intact (Green and verdant). What happened to those mountains Mr. Dorado & Mr. Brimo?
“The operation of Macro Asia still remains to be seen as they are still new but if they can do what the Canadian Phosphate Mining Company did in Buthcart Mines in Victoria, British Columbia, which became Butchart Parks and Gardens where they rehabilitated the mined and excavated areas and transformed them into landscaped parks and gardens where people (including tourists) enjoy the sights, sounds and profits of views and wildlife, then its gonna be better.
“We Palawenos are fed up with the semantics and statistics of people like Dorado and Brimo. Kumita na at pinagkitaan na nila yan sir.” — Mon Magbanua
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