TWENTTY-six containers vans loaded with highly-taxable goods and suspected illegal drugs have been spirited out at the Port of Cebu through the use of fraudulent documents in connivance with corrupt officials in the Bureau of Customs.
The incident was similar to what happened four years ago during the watch of then Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarz when 1,910 containers vans worth P3.6 billion went missing while being transported to the Port of Batangas from the Port of Manila and Manila International Container Port.
A highly reliable source at the Cebu port disclosed on Sunday that of the 26, only 11 containers vans have so far been traced, with one already recovered at the North Harbor in Manila.
Documents obtained by The Manila Times confirmed the disappearance of the 11 container vans, showing the container numbers, the names of consignees, the dates released and their alleged contents.
“Actually there were 26 missing containeers. But so far only 11 have been traced. One of the 11 has already been recovered but we are still locating the 10 others,” a highly reliable source who requested anonymity told The Times.
The source said the Cebu City government has expressed alarm on incident after it was learned that the “swing”, the port lingo for smuggling, took place during the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) in the said city.
“The city government was alarmed after learning of the missing containers because it happened during the APEC conference in Cebu. They expressed fear about a possible bombing, among other concerns,” he added.
The matter was raised by the city government during a regular meeting of the Cebu City Anti-Drug Council on September 3, which prompted the Cebu customs collector, Gen. Arnulfo Marcos, to write an explanation letter, dated September 15, to Mayor Michael Rama of Cebu City.
According to Marcos, they were able to discover the modus operandi when Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina ordered to compare the collection vis-a-vis the manifests when the latter visited Mactan last July.
“A week after giving the directive, I received a verbal report from Atty. [Lemuel] Romero [deputy collector for assessment], that they have identified once container van that has exited the CIP [Cebu International Port] gate using fraudulent documents,” Marcos said.
Further backtracking, he added, identified another 10 container vans that exited the CIP also using fraudulent documents similar to the method used in the first container van.