Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Calimlim dared to identify coddlers

REP. Prospero Pichay (Lakas, Surigao del Sur) has challenged Subic anti-illegal smuggling task force chief Lt. Gen. (ret.) Jose Calimlim to identify the lawmakers and government officials who he said are coddling smugglers.

"We will not take this matter sitting down. Gen. Calimlim has a lot of explaining to do when he is summoned to appear before our inquiry," he said.

"By just mentioning his accusations in a very general manner, he has made high-ranking officials of the Arroyo administration as suspects in this alleged protection racket," Pichay said.

"If he has the evidence then he should file the appropriate charges in court and not in newspapers," Pichay said.

Pichay has sponsored an investigation into allegations that Calimlim spirited out P2 million worth of smuggled "MaLing" luncheon meat from the Subic freeport in December even if the goods were still subject to litigation.

Calimlim had explained that the goods were distributed to typhoon victims in Southern Mindanao.

He said a three-page deed of donation would prove that Customs commissioner George Jereos authorized the donation to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Pichay said he will make sure that the House investigation will ferret out the truth on the incident and on Calimlim's multiple positions.

Aside from being anti-smuggling chief, Calimlim is director Subic Freeport Services and senior deputy administrator for operations of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Administration.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Calimlim continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of President Arroyo.

"Alam ni Presidente ang kakayahan ni General Joey Calimlim kaya nalalaman niya na kung sakali man na merong nasasabi ang ibang tao ay maaring siya ay sinisiraan nga pagka't epektibo siya," he said in a radio interview.

Ermita added that Calimlim should be given a chance to prove himself. -
Wendell Vigilia and Jocelyn Montemayor


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