Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Councilor's wife eyed in Subic smuggling case

At least P5 million worth of imported cigarettes smuggled out of the Subic Bay Freeport allegedly by a wife of a Pampanga politician was seized Tuesday.

Mei Jocson, the suspected consignee, appeared at the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group-Task Force Subic (PAGS-TFS) office in Subic also on Tuesday to admit ownership of the 132 boxes, said Superintendent Manuel Obrera, PASG-TFS chief of staff.

But Councilor Benny Jocson of Mabalacat, Pampanga, denied that the contraband belonged to his wife.

"Those are not hers. She has stopped doing business," the official told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone. He confirmed that she came to the PASG-TFS office but only to help a certain Alvin Guzman.

Councilor Jocson did not say how Guzman was involved in the case.

The 46 boxes of Black Devil, 26 boxes of Kent Blue Futura, 30 boxes of Kent Silver Neo and 30 boxes of Mild Seven Lights had been loaded into a Mitsubishi L-300 van and two Hyundai Grace vans.

These got past the Morong Gate of the freeport. PASG operatives stopped the vehicles at the Morong town proper at past 7 a.m.

Only two of the drivers, Alvin Mamangon and Ramon Santos, were arrested. The third driver escaped, Obrera said.

The drivers failed to show gate passes from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and clearances from the Bureau of Customs, Obrera said.

He said the lack of proper documents indicated that the contraband was possibly bought from a freeport-based importer.

Obrera ruled out reports that the cigarettes were bought from duty-free shops. A law on the operations of duty-free shops inside Subic and the Clark Freeport in Pampanga limits individual purchases at $25 daily. By Tonette Orejas - Inquirer Central Luzon Desk

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