MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte reminded Customs and airport personnel not to open or tamper with the shipment of COVID-19 vaccine supplies.
Likewise, the President stressed that concerned government agencies must not cause any delay in the transportation and distribution of the vaccines.
This was his call during a public address aired Monday night (February 8).
“Let me address every government worker. Lahat tayo. Do not delay and do not hinder or obstruct the smooth flow na nakikita ninyo from the time of the arrival to the time of clearance,” Duterte said.
“Maybe ang trabaho lang ninyo Customs, magtingin. You have no business na buksan-buksan dyan. You’re not allowed to do that. I am not allowing you, anybody diyan sa airport na magbukas bukas,” he added.
The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to arrive next week.
Meanwhile, the President has authorized the Philippine National Police (PNP) to deploy its men to ensure the safe and fast transport of vaccine supplies across the country.
“The PNP should provide escorts that would ensure the fastest way of, for the vaccines to arrive in their storage and even in the matter of transporting from one facility to the other. Ihatid doon sa mga local governments. The police will provide that kind of mobility,” he said.
Duterte reminded other government agencies not to interfere with the affairs of the National Task Force and stressed that only Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III are the only persons to “call the shots” in the vaccine rollout to ensure the smooth distribution of the vaccines to the people.
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has confiscated an estimated P9.746 billion-worth of smuggled goods in 2020, the Department of Finance (DOF) said on Tuesday.
Citing a report submitted by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the DOF said the Customs bureau seized smuggled cigarettes and other tobacco products in 150 out of 792 operations it conducted in the country’s ports last year.
“For the anti-smuggling effort of the BOC, the consolidated estimated value of seized shipments last year is P9.746 billion, of which P5.217 billion are from seizures of cigarettes and tobacco, P1.85 billion are from drugs seizure and P1.02 billion from counterfeit items,” Guerrero told Dominguez during a recent Executive Committee meeting.
The confiscated tobacco products made up 53.5 percent of the total amount of goods seized by the BOC during this period, Guerrero said.
Aside from tobacco products and illegal drugs, the BOC also seized P32.59 million-worth of various types of currencies from January to December 2020.
General merchandise worth P403.89 million, vehicles and automobile accessories valued at P354.53 million, and agricultural products amounting to about P207.7 million were also apprehended by the BOC, Guerrero said.
The BOC also seized personal protective equipment (PPEs), medical supplies and cosmetics worth P195.57 million; jewelry and other products, P69 million; foodstuff, P212 million; used clothing, P130.59 million; electronics goods, P31.07 million; steel products, P4.76 million; alcoholic beverages, P2.43 million; chemicals, P5 million; and firearms, P300,000.
From Jan. 1 to Dec. 28 last year, Guerrero said the BOC filed 74 criminal complaints before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against 268 respondents suspected of smuggling, and another 52 administrative cases before the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).
As of Dec. 4, 2020, the BOC also ordered the closure of 20 customs-bonded warehouses (CBWs) and 40 members of customs common bonded warehouses (CCBWs) for various violations, Guerrero said.
“In 2020, the BOC already completed the inspection and investigation of a total of 150 Customs Bonded Warehouses and 247 Members of CCBWs,” Guerrero said.
Dominguez previously ordered the BOC and Bureau of Internal Revenue to intensify their respective operations against smugglers and tax evaders despite the mobility restrictions triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) has denied that the disinfectant solution supplied to the quarantine facilities of the Philippine National Police (PNP) which caused the death of a police doctor came from them.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Spokesperson Mark Timbal said the OCD only supplied the PNP with food, janitorial services, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), and other medical equipment.
“Iyong ginamit nilang pang spray hindi po sa amin iyon. Kaya po ang gagawin namin ay makikipagtulungan kami sa PNP to determine itong bagay na ito to an investigation (The spray they used did not come from us. So we will coordinate with the PNP to determine this through an investigation),” he said.
Timbal also said they are prepared to face investigation, if necessary, to determine who needs to be held accountable for the death of Dr. Casey Gutierrez who lost his life after inhaling the disinfectant used at the Philippine Sports Arena Quarantine Facility.
“We welcome the investigation para po malinawan iyong nangyari dyan sa facility na iyan at sa kasamahan nating doctor (to shed light on what happened in the facility and to our fellow doctor),” he said.
On May 24, Gutierrez was said to have had difficulty in breathing after he reportedly inhaled the chemical from the disinfectant spray used during the decontamination procedure. He died on May 30.
Meanwhile, four other police officers were also admitted to the hospital after inhaling the said chemical. –AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)
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