The sheer size of the Clark Freeport Zone and the logistics problems being encountered by the anti-smuggling task force such as the lack of vehicles for surveillance and interception have made the 4,400 hectare zone a veritable haven for smugglers and people involved in other nefarious activities.
Task Force on Revenue and Tax Monitoring head Arnel Maguillo admitted receiving reliable reports that large amounts of money in different currencies and illegal drugs pass through the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport during big events at the Fontana Resort like golf tournaments and Baccarrat in connivance with some immigration officials.
“At the casino VIP [very important people]lounge, Chinese nationals with student or tourist visas play on phone betting,” he said.
Once the visas of these Chinese nationals expire, these are extended reportedly through the assistance of a certain Albert Corres, vice president for operations of Fontana (VIP Lounge), who delivers money to high- ranking officers of DMIA, he added.
Maguillo claimed that officials of the bureaus of Immigration officials, Customs, Philippine National Police Aviation Group and Aviation Security Department are paid P1.5 million to P2 million every 15th and 30th of the month to facilitate the entry and exit of these Chinese nationals.
In fact, he said Corres had knowledge of the shooting of Erasto Miraflor of Fontana Casino Chips Bank in November 2011 to silence him “for he knows a lot of illegal activities being facilitated by Corres.”
Maguillo lamented that they lack vehicles for their surveillance operations. Sometimes, when they have mount an operation, they use their personal cars and pay for the gas. He added that his group is undermanned and its members have not been issued forearms despite repeated, repeated requests. They also can’t establish reliable “assets” who can give them information on smuggling activities because there is no money to pay tipsters.
For the task force to function better, Maguillo requested for two more vehicles, an intelligence fund of P50,000 a month, hand guns and three additional personnel.
A report dated April 10, 2013 submitted to the Clark Development Corp. (CDC), also bared the alleged manipulation of bidding of projects at the Holiday Inn in Clark by finance comptroller Fatima Venzon and engineering manager M.R. Magbalot. Venzon and Magbalot reportedly work in tandem to award contracts to preferred bidders.
The report said that winner then gives the two officials an amount that they agreed upon. The report said that the two are still involved in anomalous transactions and that they claim that they can’t be investigated because they are not government employees and have strong backing from a top official of the Clark Development Corp. (CDC).
Some of these projects include the hotel renovation, replacement of elevator and generators, restaurant renovation and the procurement of furniture wherein which cash, not check, was paid in December 2012.
Venzon was a former employee of CDC under Noel Manankil from 1995 to 1996.
Magbalot reportedly controls all the engineering construction, equipment repairs, renovation and purchase of expensive materials needed by the hotel that costs millions of pesos despite the fact that Magbalot is not a licensed engineer.
Another anomaly reported was the extortion that allegedly occurred on March 11. On that day, (ret) Col. Nicanor Targa, the former Public Safety Department manager of CDC, allegedly demanded that Gavino de los Santos Mon, the acting manager of Simpson Taxi, pay P100 a day per taxi. When there are no joint military exercises held in Clark, the demand is P20,000 a month or P15,000 every 15 days.
Mon claimed that Targa told him that “somebody is helping him to be installed again as security manager” and that Targa asked him on March 7,2013 for advanced money from the owner of Simpson Taxi, John Boy Simpauco.
Maguillo said Targa and a certain Bacay are “still collecting money from the Friendship perimeter fence establishment up to now.”