Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, January 28, 2005

Palace backs Calimlim

AS solons pressed for his ouster, MalacaƱang yesterday came to the defense of Subic Anti-Smuggling Task Force chief Jose Calimlim, saying it is solidly behind his efforts to crack down on smugglers.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye issued the statement after Calimlim said some government officials, including some lawmakers, are being investigated for protecting smuggling syndicates.

Calimlim had said that some of these officials intercede on smugglers' behalf when illegal shipments are intercepted or seized. However, he refused to identify the officials concerned.

"We are confident that General Calimlim is prepared to back up his statements with proof and he must be given a chance to perform given the fact that he has just started in his post," Bunye said.

Bunye added that the President's marching orders is to "spare no sacred cows in the anti-smuggling campaign and General Calimlim is assured of whole backing in this score."

President Macapagal-Arroyo appointed Calimlim as "anti-smuggling czar" in Subic last year at the height of the government's renewed campaign against smuggling syndicates. Resolved to go out hammer and tongs against smuggling syndicates, the President also reactivated the Presidential Task Force on Anti-Smuggling to curb smuggling which deprives the government of hundreds of millions of pesos in customs duties and other taxes annually.

MalacaƱang, meanwhile, was silent on a resolution filed in the House of Representatives calling for an investigation of Calimlim after he allegedly diverted P2 million worth of smuggled luncheon meat seized in the freeport last December.
Tess Bedico, Bella Cariaso
People's Journal


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