2 high-ranking BOC officials deny collecting “tara”

admin   •   March 20, 2018   •   4562

(Left-Right) BOC Deputy Commissioner Edward Dy Buco and Deputy Commissioner Natalio Ecarma III

MANILA, Philippines — The two deputy commissioners of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has denied involvement in corruption at the agency.

This is contrary to what Senator Panfilo Lacson had exposed in his privilege speech in August 2017 when he named them as among those who received “tara” from importers.

“I vehemently deny the inclusion of my office and my name,” BOC Deputy Commissioner Edward Dy Buco said.

Deputy Commissioner Natalio Ecarma III noted, “Syndicates that we are up against are deeply entrenched, well-funded, politically connected and highly influential,”

Meanwhile, during the 14th hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the corruption issue in the BOC, Senator Richard Gordon said he did not see any solid pieces of evidence against the personalities in Senator Lacson’s tara list.

‘Walang naglabas ng ebidensya (Nobody presented evidence). I wish Senator Lacson will come out,” said Gordon.

Despite this, Customs chief Isidro Lapeña will continue to investigate the corruption issue in his agency.

“The investigation is a continuing one and this will cover not just those that were revealed by Senator Lacson, also those who are doing it who were not mentioned,” Lapena said. — Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue

Lacson, Sotto to Duterte: Don’t resign, just apply anti-graft laws to both friends, foes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2020

MANILA, Phillippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said that President Rodrigo Duterte should just implement the anti-graft laws to all violators instead of resigning if he wants to end corruption in the government.

READ: Duterte admits offering to resign over endless corruption in government

“Instead of resigning, the President only needs to be consistent in applying the anti-graft and corruption laws to both friends and foes,” Lacson said in a statement.

Lacson issued the statement after Duterte said he has offered to step down from office out of frustration over the rampant corruption in the country.

“Ewan ko kung sabihin ko ito sa inyo. I offered to resign as president. Pinatawag ko yung lahat, sabi ko, ‘Kasi nagsasawa na ako. In my years of government […] talagang wala na katapusan itong korupsyon. Mahirap talaga pigilin,” Duterte said during his public address late Monday night.

The president’s remarks follows on the heels of fresh allegations of irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Duterte earlier promised to fire officials over just “a whiff” of corruption.

“Strong words and warnings may work, but only when backed by political will and followed by concrete actions. There is no better way,” Lacson said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also said that it is the corrupt officials who should be resigning and not Duterte.

“Dapat ‘yung mga corrupt sa gobyerno makaisip noon, hindi siya. He was elected by the country, he cannot turn his back on the specified task by the Filipinos! I don’t think he means it,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.

As for Duterte’s offer to appear before a Congressional hearing to tackle corruption, Lacson said it may not be necessary.

“In fact, the Senate is already proposing in a bill to give him Bayanihan-like powers to address red tape in government,” he said.

Lacson was referring to Senate Bill 1844 which seeks to authorize the president to expedite the issuance of national and local permits and licenses in times of national emergency to address corruption and red tape in the government. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Customs NAIA seizes $8,000 US dollar bills hidden inside magazine

Robie de Guzman   •   September 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Monday said it intercepted $8,000 US dollar bills concealed between the pages of a cooking magazine.

In a statement, the BOC said the parcel was seized at the Fedex warehouse on Sept. 25. It was misdeclared as “correspondence” from New Jersey, USA and consigned to a certain resident in San Pedro, Laguna.

The bureau said the smuggled banknotes, which are in $50 and $100 bills, were discovered after the package was passed through the X-ray machine and was subjected to physical examination.

“The seized foreign currency shall be subjected to seizure and forfeiture proceedings in violation of Sections 1400 (Misdeclaration) and 1113 of R.A. No. 10863 (CMTA) in relation to the R.A. 7653 (New Central Bank Act) and BSP Foreign Exchange Transaction Manual,” it said.

The bureau added that the case records will likewise be referred to Bureau Action Team Against Smugglers (BATAS) and Legal Service for further investigation, case build up and prosecution for violation of Sections 1400, 1401 of the CMTA in relation to the New Central Bank Act.

The BOC advised the public to refrain from attempts to engage in similar fraudulent schemes as the BSP Manual of Foreign Exchange Transaction simply requires the faithful declaration and accomplishment of Foreign Currency Declaration Forms for importation and exportation of foreign currency in excess of USD10,000 or its equivalent.

Lacson on US bill seeking suspension of security aid to PH: ‘Not only our loss but theirs as well’

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday expressed his belief that the proposal to suspend the security assistance provided by the United States to the Philippines “will not only be our loss but theirs as well.”

Lacson issued the statement after a bill seeking such move was introduced to US Congress.

While he recognized the authority of members of US Congress to file a legislative measure “under any circumstance,” the senator said that a major part of the security assistance being extended to the Philippines is used to combat terrorism.

Lacson, who chairs the Philippine Senate committee on national defense, stressed that terrorism knows no borders and timing, and that the US lawmakers “know that for a fact.”

Pennsylvania Representative Susan Wild earlier pushed the proposed Philippine Human Rights Act before the US Congress which seeks to block security funding to the Philippines until the government has made “certain reforms to the military and police forces.”

“Across the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal regime is using the pretext of a so-called “Anti-Terrorism Law” to ramp up efforts targeting labor organizers, workers, and political opponents… In response to these abuses, I introduced the Philippine Human Rights Act to block U.S. funding for police or military assistance to the Philippines outlining a series of basic criteria which would have to be met in order to resume such funding,” she said.

Lacson said that as part of the legislative process, the bill will have “to go through the mill of first reading and referral, committee hearings and floor debates.”

“If adopted and approved, the said bill — H.R. 8313 — will not only be our loss but theirs as well, considering that a major part of the security assistance being extended to the Philippines is used to combat terrorism, which knows no borders and timing. And they know that for a fact,” he added.

Lacson further said that in deliberating on the bill, US lawmakers may have to consider and resolve as a legal issue the existing Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Manila and Washington.

The VFA came into force in 1999. It outlines the guidelines about the treatment of their troops when visiting the US or the Philippines. It includes provisions on visa and passport policies for US troops and the American government’s right to retain jurisdiction over its personnel, among others.

In February, the Philippines moved to terminate the accord but was later suspended for six months in June. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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