Probers: Government men part of Naia smuggling

EIGHT groups that include government workers allegedly involved in smuggling at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) have raised about P10 billion, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commissioner  (PACC) Greco Antonious B. Belgica disclosed on Thursday.

At a Palace briefing, Belgica said they have long been investigating the matter, especially the alleged involvement of employees of the Departments of  Transportation, Finance and of Justice, and Bureau of Customs.

“We have long been watching them. Last December we were already monitoring them and our findings say that around 2012, 2014, they were smuggling drugs, but not this one
which we particularly caught, but the group which also uses the same systems.  Then we also have information that the smuggled jewelry changed into smuggled drugs,” he said.

These smugglers were already caught three times and the last incident happened on May 5.

“We went [to the location] and we investigated the case. And there we found and we saw P6 million worth of jewelry that was, again, caught,” he said. “Prior to that, they were also caught; the same group was caught last December.”

Belgica recalled that it was last December that Justice Assistant Secretary Moslemen T. Macarambon “intervened,” noting that the tax and duties went down from P6 million to P1.3 million.

However, Belgica clarified that what their asset caught was smuggled jewelry, which was undeclared.  “Instead of being confiscated and charged at Customs, the price is being arranged. Then Asec [referring to Macarambon] came and he asked to lower the tax and duties to P1.3 million,” he said.

Belgica further noted that what they caught on May 5 is the work of just one of eight syndicates that they have been investigating under the same modus.

“So we have reason to believe that they are one organized group doing this, connected to many different offices and taking advantage of the complex systems and using government officers. And it’s very clear that their syndicate already reached up to Prosecutor’s Office,” he said.

Belgica said they will be conducting further investigation and will then forward the criminal information for a criminal complaint with the Ombudsman.

On Tuesday President Duterte asked Macarambon, along with another assistant secretary, to resign or be fired over corruption allegations.  Macarambon has decried that he was not given due process on the matter.

Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr. said Duterte made this decision following the
PACC investigation.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirmed to the BusinessMirror that Macarambon tendered his resignation before April 30 and that the President has appointed someone else to replace him, effectively terminating his services.


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