• ‘Customs did not prevent P2.65-M smuggling’

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    SUBIC BAY FREEPORT: The 10-wheeler truck loaded with 36 units of used industrial sewing machines and other office equipment valued at P2.65 million intercepted by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on May 19 was just a “show,” a scrapper claimed on Thursday.

    The scrapper, who requested not to be named, told The Manila Times and other media members here that BOC Police District Commander Lt. Gino Minguilian was advised of the industrial sewing machines and other items to be smuggled out as junk materials from the Subic Bay Freeport.

    The source said he passed the information to Minguilian earlier about his group from Bulacan that bought the lot of scrap materials and other items from Subic Bay Apparel company for P2.5 million. But they were surprised upon arriving in the area that the items were already being loaded to a cargo truck without inspection.

    The source alleged that Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) officials and BoC had prior knowledge of the industrial items to be smuggled as scrap materials to avoid paying the correct taxes.

    Last May 19, SBMA law enforcers and BoC personnel stopped a cargo truck (RNK 394) exiting the Tipo Gate, after its driver Roel Taloban, failed to show a Customs’ clearance.

    The cargo was declared as assorted scrap materials worth P10,000 from the Subic Bay Apparel Corp., a company which has been closed at the Naval Magazine area here.

    The source said the earlier hauled cargo “scrap” last May 12 and 15 also did not have any BoC clearance.
    Meanwhile, SBMA Chairman Martin Diño during an emergency media conference on May 29, announced that SBMA personnel and officials may be involved in smuggling and warned crooked businessmen not to use the Subic Bay Freeport for their smuggling operations.

    Diño, however, did not name personnel involved, saying they are still investigating the case.
    Minguilian also said he has relieved a BoC personnel assigned at the Tipo Gate.

    Documents obtained by The Manila Times showed that on May 11, 12 and 15, five hauling trucks loaded with 109 heavy duty industrial sewing machines, computers, office chairs, 300 rolls of fabric and other materials, passed through Tipo Road. The cargoes were reportedly transported to the San Simon Industrial Park in Pampanga.

    SBMA Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Wilma Eisma, in a text message to the The Manila Times, said the agency has been working with the BoC on the matter and has advised BoC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon last week.

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