The anti-corruption campaign of the Duterte administration on the smuggling front is gaining ground, House leaders said.
House Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu of Batangas and Deputy Minority Leader Jose Atienza of Buhay party-list made the observation after the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) thwarted the supposed smuggling of 200,000 metric tons of refined white sugar from Thailand.
The haul included four million sacks of sugar approximately worth P8 billion in the domestic market at the prevailing landed price of P2,000 per 50 kilogram bag.
The shipment was scheduled to arrive today (December 23) at the Subic Freeport but SBMA Chairman Martin Diño prevented the alleged smuggling by ordering Trade Facilitation and Compliance Department officer-in-charge Robert Bana to recall the certificate of eligibility and admission permit earlier issued to locator/importer Subic Bay Free Trade Center Inc. because of suspicious circumstances including lack of proper documentation.
“This proves that the administration’s revitalized campaign against corruption is starting to gain traction. By plugging the tax leaks, we increase revenue collection, avoid increasing tax rates and provide better services to our people,” Abu said.
“Those who pay the right taxes should not be burdened by those who cheat,” he added.
“This is a good development. We need to stop smuggling and technical smuggling that bleed the government up to P500 billion each year in revenue losses,” Atienza said.
In a statement, Diño ordered an immediate investigation to find out possible involvement of SBMA officials and personnel in the transaction, warning of outright dismissal if evidence so warrants.
“The sugar is meant for transshipment noting that the cargo volume dwarfs the locator’s available storage capacity. This is more than what a local sugar refinery can produce in one milling season,” he pointed out.
“I won’t tolerate any form of smuggling–an economic sabotage–under my watch. The Duterte administration needs all the revenues it can raise to fund the government’s big ticket infrastructure projects and to deliver vital social services, especially education and health,” Diño said.
LLANESCA T. PANTI