Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Subic investors hit PASG’s action of halting their exports

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – Some investors here are questioning the action by the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) of stopping the exportation of some 325 used vehicles bound for Hong Kong.

"Any way you look at it, this is harassment on the part of the PASG because they have no reason to stop the shipment. Our exports are legal, and we have documents to prove it," said Peter Geroue, director of DCB Trading Inc., one of the eight companies that own the shipment.

Meanwhile, Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales ordered an investigation on the alleged smuggling of 325 used cars from Subic, but he hastened to add that if the shipment is intended for re-export, there is no violation of Customs law.

Geroue said, "if PASG has additional requirements, then why don’t they tell us? PASG has not informed us of anything wrong about our shipment."

"If PASG has proof that we are smuggling the vehicles, as they said earlier, then we dare them to file charges against us. But so far, we have not received any formal charge," Geroue said.

Subic Shonan International Inc. Chairman Mohamed Ihsan also said that his company has been doing legitimate business in Subic and complying with Philippine laws.

"Now, we are losing a lot of money because of the delay in shipping, but we still don’t know why our shipment is being held by PASG," Ihsan complained.

Some officers of the Subic Bay Press Corps, together with Geroue and Ihsan, condemned the Gestapo-like tactics of the PASG after some of its operatives interrupted a press conference called by Geroue to explain why they were shipping the vehicles to Hong Kong.

The operatives, led by Col. Manuel Obrera, chief of staff of the Subic PASG team, barged in the media briefing and told Geroue he is being invited to the PASG office in Subic for a talk with the PASG chief, Undersecretary Antonio Bebot Villar Jr.

Geroue later agreed, but when he stopped his car to talk with his lawyer, the PASG operatives forcibly pushed him back into his car.

The incident was witnessed by several members of the local media, including this correspondent. Geroue said the PASG stopped last Friday the loading of vehicles even as DCB and the other shippers presented export documents processed by both the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC) office here.

The following day, the shippers complained in a letter to PASG, expressing their surprise over the withholding of their shipment. The shippers said they have yet to receive a formal reply from PASG regarding their inquiry.

Meanwhile, PASG operatives, who asked not to be identified, told media people last Sunday that they stopped the loading of the vehicles because of intelligence reports that the shipment is intended to be brought to Port Irene in the Cagayan Economic Zone.

Last Tuesday, PASG chief Antonio Villar was quoted in media reports as saying that he has ordered the cargo held because the supposed consignee based in Hong Kong has denied claim that he is expecting the shipment.
Geroue said, however, the PASG allegation that the shippers intend to bring the vehicles to Port Irene is 'pure speculation.'
"If indeed we bring the vehicles to Port Irene, then maybe that’s the time to arrest and interrogate us, not now," he said. By JONAS REYES - Manila Bulletin

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