Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

All-out campaign vs smuggling

No sacred cows - Palace

By GENALYN D. KABILING, Manila Bulletin

President Arroyo yesterday ordered Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales, the government’s new anti-smuggling czar, to carry out the reinforced crackdown on smugglers and their cohorts in the Bureau without fear or favor.

"Customs Commissioner Napoleon as the new head of the anti-smuggling task force has the full backing of the Palace in going after smuggling syndicates and corrupt officials and personnel of the BOC," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.

"The President has made it clear to Commissioner Morales that there are to be no sacred cows in this all-out effort to fight smuggling," Bunye added.

Bunye noted the customs bureau has began the necessary reforms to increase its collection efficiency and improve its services.

The President recently named Morales to replace then Interior and Local Government Secretary Angelo Reyes who now heads the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Also named to the task force were Armed Forces Chief Gen. Generoso Senga and Philippine National Police Chief Dir. Gen. Arturo Lomibao, among others. The new appointments were contained in Executive Order No. 509 dated March 15 which became effective immediately.

The President, meantime, ordered yesterday heightened inspection of imported goods outside the Subic and Clark economic zones amid reports some smugglers use the ports as entry points.

Mrs. Arroyo said more customs agents must be deployed at the gates of the two free ports to inspect and impose the proper taxes and duties on goods being brought out.

She said the government plans to develop warehouse services in the two economic zones en route to turning them into a world-class logistic hub in the region.

Sen. Sergio Osmena earlier said smugglers are thriving in Subic, Clark and Batangas ports and not in retail malls in Divisoria, Manila. He said the government must focus its crackdown on these ports instead.

The Arroyo government has embarked on an all-out campaign against smuggling because it deprives the government of needed revenues and unfairly compete with legitimate business


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