Duterte orders freezing of several Customs officials, employees

Robie de Guzman   •   July 11, 2019   •   1342

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a situation briefing with members of his Cabinet and local government officials to discuss disaster response measures in the aftermath of Tropical Depression (TD) ‘Usman’. at the Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC) in Pili, Camarines Sur on January 4, 2019 ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the freezing of several high-ranking officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) over corruption allegations.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said these officials are facing administrative and criminal charges for unlawful activities. Their names, he said would be disclosed “at the appropriate time.”

“The President’s latest action underscores this Administration’s zero tolerance on corruption among erring officials,” Panelo said in a statement released on Wednesday night (July 10).

“We continue to dismantle corruption in the bureaucracy and rid it of corrupt officials and employees… The anti-corruption campaign is continuing as it is relentless. No one will be spared,” he added.

Duterte’s order was issued days after he warned of firing several Customs officials who are accused of corruption. The president also bared he was mulling over another revamp in the BOC.

READ: Duterte mulls another Customs revamp

He also mentioned anew his earlier proposal of bringing the military into the BOC to address corruption allegations in the agency.

It can be recalled that in October 2018, the president said he is considering asking military men to take over the BOC due to the rampant corruption and drug smuggling activities.

Although there are reports that corruption and bribery still continue to thrive in the BOC, Malacañang said on Tuesday that Customs chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero still enjoys the trust and confidence of the president. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte orders gov’t agencies to respond to quake-affected residents in Mindanao

Marje Pelayo   •   October 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte expressed sympathy to those who were affected by the earthquake in several parts of Mindanao, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

In a statement, Panelo said the administration is asking the public to refrain from spreading disinformation which may cause undue alarm, panic, and stress to many.

In view of possible aftershocks, the Palace asks the public to remain calm and vigilant.

Panelo also gave the assurance that the national government, through the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), is closely monitoring the situation and that the President has already ordered concerned agencies to act appropriately in assisting those who were affected.

“The Office of the President has already tasked all concerned agencies of the government to mobilize, respond and provide immediate assistance to those in need, as well as to study plans on how to rehabilitate the damaged areas,” Panelo concluded. MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte names former House Speaker Belmonte special envoy to Japan

Robie de Guzman   •   October 16, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte (L) raises the hand of former House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte in an undated photo that was released on May 10, 2019.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has named former House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte as Special Envoy to Japan.

Based on a document from Malacañang released on Wednesday, Belmonte was appointed as special envoy to Japan for trade and market access.

Belmonte was appointed by Duterte on Oct. 15, Tuesday.

He served as Representative of the 4th District of Quezon City for three terms, and was elected as House speaker of the 15th and 16th Congress during the time of former presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III, respectively.

Belmonte was Liberal Party’s former vice chairman before he resigned in September last year. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

BOC arrests Indonesian after bag yields P54M worth of shabu

Robie de Guzman   •   October 8, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A female Indonesian was arrested at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Monday after her bag was found with P54 million worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.

The BOC said the Indonesian national, identified as Agnes Alexandra, was apprehended when she arrived from Siem Reap, Cambodia early Monday morning as an X-ray scanning of her luggage showed suspected dangerous drugs.

Upon closer inspection, Customs personnel found eight kilograms of crystalline substances wrapped in aluminum foil and concealed under the lining of the baggage.

The substance turned positive for shabu when subjected to a test.

Alexandra and the confiscated drugs have been turned over to the custody of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The foreigner will face charges for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act and the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

On September 28, the BOC said it also seized a similar shipment from another passenger from Cambodia.

This prompted the bureau to place all flights from the so-called “Golden Triangle” (Laos, Thailand and Myanmar) and neighboring countries under red alert for suspicion that a syndicate with the same name may be behind the illegal shipment.

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