Second of three parts
THERE’S something disturbing about the October 31, 2013 memorandum of the Public Safety Department (PSD) of the Clark Development Corp., which has jurisdiction over the Clark Freeport Zone’s anti-smuggling task force.
The memo limits the task force operations from Mondays to Fridays and only within the office hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Task Force on Revenue and Tax Monitoring, whose duty is to stop smuggling and ensure that the privileges of locators of the Clark Freeport Zone are not abused, also handles traffic and security in the zone.
The memorandum, signed and issued by PSD manager Ricardo Banayat, supersedes the guidelines on Daily Time Records listed in the memorandum from the President issued on July 19, 2012.
It allowed smugglers to operate freely during the “open hours” after 5 p.m. until 7:59 a.m. from Monday to Friday and on Saturdays and Sundays.
The transfer of the task force to the PSD was questioned by some members of some groups who are alarmed by the growing smuggling activities in the ecozone. They said that the PSD does not have the time and resources to run after the smugglers.
The transfer of the task force was carried out on the basis of a “verbal instruction” by the CDC President and Chief Executive Arthur Tugade to Franco A.L. Madlangbayan, as shown in the August 15, 2013 memorandum issued by Madlangbayan.
The memo reads: “In reference to the verbal instructions of the CDC President/CEO and in the exigency of the service, effective this date all personnel of the Task Force on Revenue and Tax Monitoring shall report and shall be under the supervision of the office of the Manager for Public Safety Department.”
Yet, even with an active task force, the smuggling of goods continues, as proven by the seizure and confiscation of smuggled items such as laptops, computer parts, fabric and apparel, electronics equipment, gloves, medicines and medical equipment, computer servers and accessories, luxury cars, imported furniture, cell phone parts, assorted cloth, rolls of textiles, wines, cigarettes and duty free items, crystal processing, grinding stones, imitation watches, jackets, metals and plastic scraps and underlining fabrics.
Even drugs and firearms are said to have been sneaked in via the Diosdado Macapagal (Clark) International Airport, which also falls under PSD’s jurisdiction.
To aggravate matters, the PSD’s vehicles and firearms are no match for the smugglers’ sophisticated gear and guns.
The task force, headed by Arnel Manguillo, normally seizes vans or trucks containing goods being manufactured for re-export in the Freeport but are being diverted to other areas of Luzon.
Apprehended drivers are fined P50,000. But it is not clear where the penalties go, if the seized goods are surrendered to the Bureau of Customs or if the Public Safety Department releases them to the consignees once the fine is paid.