Sep 092017

DUTERTE SON, SON-IN-LAW ATTEND SHABU SHIPMENT PROBE: Presidential son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and presidential son-in-law Manases Carpio consult with each other during the continuation of the Senate inquiry Thursday, September 07, 2017, on the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of illegal drugs into the country last May. Duterte and Carpio both denied allegations that they were part of the “Davao Group” allegedly operating in the Bureau of Customs (BOC). The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, chaired by Senator Richard Gordon continues its probe on the 600 kilograms of shabu or metamphetamine hydrochloride which entered the country through the BOC’s green lane. (MNS photo)

MANILA – Presidential son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law Manases Carpio faced a Senate panel on Thursday to “once and for all” deny their involvement in the PHP6.4 billion worth of shabu shipment from China.

“Once and for all, I now have the time to deny any and all baseless allegations thrown against me,” Duterte said in his opening statement before Senator Antonio Trillanes IV began asking him questions.

Duterte said he and Carpio showed up “in compliance with the invitation of the Senate blue ribbon committee” and as a “gesture of respect to the Senate as a whole.”

He started speaking in Bisaya, but eventually shifted to English, explaining that his presence there is for the Filipino and for his fellow Davaoenos.

“I am very sorry, but I cannot answer allegations based on hearsay,” Duterte said.

He ended his opening statement quoting a colleague in the Davao City Council which he did not name.

“…The law of karma will operate, especially to those with evil intent,” he said, pointing out that a senator, which he did not name, once called his family “a family of murderers.”

Carpio, like Duterte, also denied his knowledge of and involvement in the illegal drug shipment.

He also denied knowing Customs broker and fixer Mark Taguba who initially claimed that he and Paolo Duterte facilitated the illegal shipment, but later retracted this saying it was “hearsay.”

“I do not know Mark Taguba and have not met him,” Carpio said.

He explained that as a lawyer by profession, his practice involved representing clients in courts including the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

“The case I’m working on in the BOC dates back to the administration of President (Benigno) Aquino,” Carpio said.

He, meanwhile, vowed to help the committee in whatever way he can as a resource person. (PNA)

Mar 272014
Budget deficit balloons to P34.2 B

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s budget deficit ballooned in January as the government ramped up spending for the reconstruction of areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda. In a statement, the Department of Finance said the deficit expanded by 75 percent to P34.2 billion in January from P19.5 billion in the same month last year. A deficit occurs when government expenditure exceeds revenue over a particular period of time. Excluding interest payments on the government’s debt, the deficit turns into a primary surplus of P22.2 billion. “The Philippines’ fiscal performance figures in recent years are a manifestation of restored normalcy in meeting the expectations of the Development Budget Coordination Committee,” Finance Secretary Purisima said. Purisima credited the country’s sound fiscal performance to improving revenue collections, declining reliance on foreign currency debt and President Aquino’s drive to transform the country into one of the fastest-growing economies. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 He said the Philippines has gotten closer to achieving its annual revenue targets over the last four years. In 2013, state revenues were just 1.7 percent short of the official target. Revenue collections for January rose eight percent to P148.8 billion with tax revenues accounting for 91 percent or P134.8 billion of the total or an increase of 12 percent year on year. The Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs posted double-digit growth rates amid an intensified campaign to curb smuggling and tax evasion. BIR collections grew 10 percent to P104.2 billion in January Read More …

Feb 222014
What seizure? Car importers cry foul

Port Irene in Cagayan Freeport Sta. Ana, Cagayan. A big-time contractor, who has close personal and business ties to the former chief of staff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and her family, cornered the bulk of P5 billion in state largesse given to the Cagayan Freeport in the last five years. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO NUEVA VIZCAYA, Philippines—A group of car importers based in Port Irene in Cagayan on Saturday protested the statements made by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) that portrayed them as car smugglers. Jaime Vicente, president of the Automotive Rebuilding Industry of Cagayan Inc. (Aric), described as “malicious” the BOC’s insinuation that they tried to sneak out imported vehicles from the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP) in Santa Ana town. “What is most lamentable are insinuations that the BOC has confiscated the 38 units for which we have filed for import entry. There appears a clear attempt to give the public the impression that the vehicles were ‘intercepted’ while these were being illegally brought out of the port,” Vicente said in a statement. Vicente was referring to an announcement made by Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla at a press briefing on Friday, 10 days after BOC agents at its Aparri collection office issued warrants of seizure on 38 assorted vehicles presented for acceptance by Fenix (Ceza) International, one of the licensed used car importers at the CSEZFP. The 38 units were part of 347 vehicles that comprised the Dec. 14 shipment from Japan, the import documents Read More …

Jan 132014
PNoy: BOC reforms to help solve smuggling problem

President Benigno Aquino III is confident that the reforms being implemented by his administration within the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will address the country’s smuggling problem. “Palagay ko naman we are addressing it, tingnan ninyo yung movement of people in Customs,” Aquino told reporters after the groundbreaking ceremony of the San Gabriel Power Plant Project in Sta. Rita, Batangas City. He issued the statement after the group Federation of Philippine Industries said the government lost more than P1.33 trillion in revenues from 2002 to 2011 due to smuggling. But Aquino said things are slowly changing since they started reshuffling officials within the BOC, which recently saw the resignation of Ruffy Biazon as its commissioner. “What I’m trying to say is we pressed the restart button, parang sa computer,” the President said. The personnel changes within the BOC began after Aquino, in his last State of the Nation Address, publicly called out the bureau for supposedly failing to curb smuggling operations in the country. Since then, Aquino has tranferred those he feels are not “contributing to the [reform] efforts” to their mother unit, the Department of Finance. Aquino recently appointed John “Sunny” Sevilla” as the new commissioner of the bureau, replacing Biazon, who stepped down after having been named respondent in a malversation case by the Department of Justice. Aquino admitted he had to convince many appointees to transfer to BOC to help him initiate changes. “Ang expectation is these people will carry out their faction.  It’s not perfect, they have Read More …

Dec 042013
New Customs chief possibly by Friday, says Biazon; Dellosa may be on shortlist

The new Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs may be named as early as Friday, the exiting Customs chief Ruffy Biazon said Wednesday. His recently-appointed deputy, Jessie Dellosa, may be on the short list of possible appointees, GMA News’ 24 Oras newscast reported. Dellosa, is a former chief of staff the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and was appointed last September as the Customs Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence, replacing Danilo Lim, another retired military officer. Biazon said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima revealed during their most recent meeting that President Benigno Aquino III has received a list containing the names of individuals eyed to replace him as the chief of the Bureau of Customs (BOC). “Sa discussion namin (ni Purisima), nakapagbigay na ng mga pangalan sa Presidente para siya na ang mamili kung sino ang magiging either OIC (Officer in Charge) or permanent successor ko,” he said. Biazon announced his irrevocable resignation from the BOC Monday after having been named by the Department of Justice as a respondent together with 33 others in a malversation case connected to the P10 billion pork barrel scam. Biazon said he aims to settle by Friday all immediate concerns at the BOC that needed to be addressed since his request to stay at his post until the end of December has been turned down by Malacanang. He said he had requested the President for an extension of his term to facilitate a smooth period of transition at the bureau. “Hinahabol na within this week [na Read More …

Nov 082013
NFA asks BOC to block illegal rice imports

MANILA, Philippines – The National Food Authority (NFA) has asked the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to watch out for the possible illegal entry of 120,000 metric tons (MT) of rice from Vietnam. In letter dated Oct. 21, NFA administrator Orlan Calayag informed Customs commissioner Rufino Biazon of reports of an agreement between unnamed Filipino traders with Vietnam Food Association for the supply of such volume. “This agreement was made without prior consent from the NFA,” said Calayag. A wires report last month said that Vietnam has signed contracts to sell 120,000 of rice to private companies in the Philippines. “For your information, the planned importation is in violation of Republic Act 8178 and Presidential Decree No. 4, as amended,” Calayag said in his letter. “Rice cannot be imported in the Philippines without an import permit from the NFA.” Calayag noted that Republic Act 8178 also known as “The Agricultural Tariffication Act,” mandates the NFA to require importation permits for rice shipments upon assessment of the current supply. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 NFA also informed the BOC that rice is being smuggled into the country in container vans from Vietnam through ports in Thailand, Singapore or Taiwan. Earlier, the NFA asked BOC to go after five traders that have allegedly smuggled into the country, through the port of Davao,  243,000 50-kilogram bags of rice. The shipments, which originated from Vietnam arrived betwen July and September. The NFA said the shipments were sent to the Philippines via Read More …

Nov 072013
South African slapped with drug raps over cocaine haul at NAIA

By Jerry E. EsplanadaPhilippine Daily Inquirer 2:56 pm | Thursday, November 7th, 2013 Customs chief Ruffy Biazon.  RYAN LEAGOGO/ MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs filed drug smuggling charges before the Department of Justice against a South African national who was caught carrying 8.5 kilos of cocaine by alert BOC personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) two weeks ago. Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said they have filed criminal charges against suspected drug mule Debbie Reyneke, citing the Department of Finance-attached agency’s intensified campaign against the use of the country’s ports of entry in the illegal drug trade. “This should send a strong warning to international drug syndicates that the Philippines is not a place for illegal and hazardous drugs,” he said, stressing the BOC would not allow any foreign drug ring make the country one of their markets. In a statement, the former Muntinlupa City legislator also said the BOC would “prosecute and seek for the maximum penalties allowed by law to all those caught attempting to smuggle illegal drugs into the country, if only to spare the lives of many young Filipinos.” “Reyneke’s arrest on October 23 upon her arrival from Dubai on board an Emirates flight was the result of the bureau’s enhanced intelligence network,” said Biazon. He disclosed that “Customs officials at the NAIA were already alerted of her arrival and the possibility of having illegal drugs in her luggage. When her bag was inspected, it yielded food packs containing a substance that tested Read More …

Jul 232013
Customs exec Danilo Lim quits post a day after SONA

(Updated 9 p.m.) Saying he agrees with President Benigno Aquino III’s observation on the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Danilo Lim, the bureau’s deputy commissioner for intelligence, tendered his resignation Tuesday. “I agree with the President’s SONA observation that the Bureau has not performed in accordance with the expectations of the people,” Lim said in a statement. “In view of this, I see no other recourse but to leave this office.” The BOC was one of the three government agencies Aquino scolded during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday. The others were the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).  Immediately after Aquino’s SONA, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon offered his resignation, but it was rejected by the President. According to Lim, as a member of the Cabinet, he is “privy to the truths that ring out in (Aquino’s) speech and am profoundly moved.” “It is in this spirit that I tendered my resignation as Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence of the Bureau of Customs,” said the retired military general who was involved in several coup attempts in the past, including one against Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, in 1989. Lim said this was not the first time he asked to be removed from his post in the BOC, which he held for 22 months. “During my tenure, (Executive) Secretary Pacquito Ochoa will attest that I had asked to be relieved of my duties no less than six times, and in all those times Read More …

Jul 232013
Palace defends decision to keep Biazon as Customs chief

(Updated 3:17 p.m.) Malacañang on Tuesday defended President Benigno Aquino III’s decision not to accept Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon’s resignation despite the President’s negative comments about the bureau on his State of the Nation Address (SONA). “As Commissioner Biazon had already shared on his Twitter account yesterday, the President’s response that the confidence remains, as both gentlemen know the challenges and as well as the limitations that are being faced by… Biazon in the Bureau of Customs, and that the confidence in the commissioner remains,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said at a press briefing. The Bureau of Customs (BOC) was one of the three government agencies scolded by Aquino during his fourth SONA for supposed mediocre work. The others were the Bureau of Immigration and the National Irrigation Administration. Right after the SONA, Biazon, on his Twitter account, said he offered his resignation to Aquino but that the President said his confidence in him “remains the same.” The heads of the other agencies that were publicly berated by the President had either resigned or had not been reappointed. Biazon, for his part, said he will stay with the BOC as long as Aquino’s confidence in his remains. “Kung nandiyan pa ang kumpyansa ng pangulo, mananatili tayo,” he said in an interview on GMA News TV’s “News To Go” on Tuesday. Sacrificial lamb But he also expressed ambivalence, noting that he is thinking if keeping the post “is all worth it.” “Pinag-iisipan ko rin if this is all worth it Read More …

Jul 222013
After being scolded by PNoy, Customs chief Biazon offers resignation

(Updated 1:43 a.m., 23 July 2013) Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon on Monday night said he “offered” his resignation from government, following President Benigno Aquino III’s statement against the Bureau of Customs during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA). Aquino, however, did not accept his resignation, Biazon tweeted. The Bureau of Customs (BOC) was one of the three government agencies berated by the President in his mid-term SONA. The other two were the Bureau of Immigration, whose head Ricardo David resigned last week, and the National Irrigation Administration. Later, Biazon expounded more on the matter through both his Facebook account and his blog. He thanked the President for his appreciation of the difficulties involved in trying to reform the BOC, recalling that he took on the commissioner’s job “motivated by the President’s will and vision to reform the entire government, which makes it possible to the break the ‘kalakaran’ which has ruled Customs for generations.” However, ever present was the possibility a failure which would leave him “frustrated and damaged.” Also, after he had offered his resignation, Biazon said that he received reactions and advice through social media. Some of the feedback asked him to stay at his post, while others advised him to resign despite the President’s message of confidence. The matter is still up in the air, according to Biazon. He remains on the job, but “all of these I have to absorb and process.” Meanwhile, during an interview on Monday night’s episode of GMA News TV’s Read More …