‘Courts helping smuggling thrive’

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Business group blasts legal roadblocks

The government’s efforts to curb smuggling are being stymied by legal roadblocks that slow down the prosecution of smuggling cases, a prominent group of businessmen said
on Friday.

The Makati Business Club estimates that between P30 billion and P150 billion in unrealized revenue is lost because of smuggling.

In a statement on Friday, the MBC acknowledged that the Aquino administration’s campaign against corruption has proven to be the key to unleashing the Philippines’ potential to attract the right kind of investors, hastening economic progress, and restoring confidence and pride among Filipinos. “However, rampant smuggling into the country continues to be a bane to the government and to our local manufacturers and traders,” it said.

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The group said the “efforts to stop smuggling are being impeded by the Courts’ issuances of TROs [temporary restraining orders]and injunctions, motions for reconsideration, inhibitions, postponements and extensions of time, without legal or factual basis.”

“Smuggling cannot be done without connivance with a government official or employee. The implication is clear—where there is smuggling, there is corruption,” it said.

The lost revenue could have been spent on building more roads, hospitals, and schools, on paying for teachers’ salaries and other social services.

The MBC applauded the steps the government has taken to stop corruption, specifically mentioning the confiscation of smuggled rice; the raids against sellers of smuggled goods; the filing of cases against smugglers and their protectors in government; and the implementation of institutional reforms, such as BIR Revenue Regulation 2-2012, to address smuggling in the oil industry.

The group said smuggling undermines the Aquino govern­ment’s goal to create a globally competitive and business-friendly climate in the country. “We all must give our full support to the efforts being made by our President and the Department of Finance to stop smuggling,” the MBC said.

The group enjoined state agencies and the courts to work with the business community in helping the country fulfill its potential to be the next economic miracle in Asia.

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