SUBIC Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman Martin Diño disclosed on Wednesday the alleged rampant corruption in his turf, including a recent attempt to sneak into the country P8 billion worth of imported sugar without import permit from the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).
Diño vowed to use all his authority as chairman and head of agency to cleanse the SBMA of corrupt officials and personnel despite his leadership feud with Administrator Wilma Eisma.
“The power to discipline is not with the board [of the SBMA]but with the head of the agency. I am the head of the agency. It’s in the Civil Service rules,” he said during the weekly “Kapihan sa Manila Bay” forum in Ermita, Manila.
He added that the President has personally instructed him to cleanse the SBMA of corruption, including smuggling and the entry of illegal drugs.
Subic is allegedly being used by unscrupulous locators in cahoots with SBMA personnel in their smuggling activities, including a recent attempt to sneak in into the country 800,000 metric tons of sugar from Thailand.
“What does it mean? [These are] 8,000 containers, five million bags of sugar. We don’t have soft drinks company nor an ice cream factory inside [Subic]. Why would they enter such a huge volume of sugar? I did not sign the request,” he said.
“Had it entered Subic, it is [equivalent]to 10 percent of the yield of our sugar industry. It will affect the livelihood of 15 million sugarcane farmers,” Diño added.
He also disclosed the entry into the port of sub-standard steel bars imported by Mannage Resources Trading Corp. (MRTC).
He said the Bureau of Customs (BoC) found out that, initially, MRTC declared the transaction value of the shipment of 5,000 metric tons of deformed steel bars at $2 per metric ton, equivalent to more than P41 million worth of duties and taxes. But after a careful review of the documents, it was confirmed that the importation was undervalued, hence an adjustment was made on the freight charges in the amount of $16.50 per metric ton.
What is more alarming, Diño added, was the entry of illegal drugs into the country through Subic. He disclosed that Subic authorities recently arrested a husband and wife for possession of illegal drugs which evidence mysteriously disappeared.
Diño linked an SBMA official to the release of the drug smugglers and the disappearance of the drugs, adding that the same personality was involved in the attempt to smuggle into the country the 800,000 tons of sugar.
He added that there were also a lot of complaints from locators that it took them three months to secure a permit or renew their licenses.