Halaga ng nakumpiskang smuggled goods ng BOC, umakyat sa P23B ngayong 2021

Maris Federez   •   November 22, 2021   •   313


MANILA, Philippines — Mas pinalakas na ng Bureau of Customs (BOC) ang mga hakbang nito upang mapigilan na ang pagpasok ng mga iligal na kontrabando sa bansa.

Ngunit sa kabila nito ayon kay BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, may nakakalusot pa rin na ilang smuggled goods dahil na rin sa limitasyon ng pagsasagawa nila ng inspeksyon ng mga kargamento.

“Talagang ganun po yun, your Honor, kasi may mga limitasyon rin po tayo pagdating sa pagko conduct ng inspection ng Puerto. Because of lack of facility, hindi po lahat nadidiskarga laman ng containers para makita ang kabuuang laman ng container,”ani Guerrero.

Sa ulat ng BOC sa Kamara, aabot na sa Php23 bilyon ang halaga ng smuggled goods na kanilang nakumpiska mula Enero hanggang Oktubre ngayong taon.

Mas malaki ito kumpara sa nakalipas na dalawang taon.

Ayon kay Guerrero, pinalawak na nila  ang paghabol sa mga kontrabando lalo na ng mga counterfeit o fake goods.

“Sa letters of authority na inissue ko, ikocover namin even yung mga warehouses, stores kung saan nakikita natin yung mgaganyang violations,” dagdag nito.

Nababahala naman si Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Ferdinand Gaite kung magpapatuloy ang pagdagsa ng mga smuggled goods partikular na ang mga produktong galing sa agrikultura.

“May ilang pag-aaral ang iba’t-ibang grupo for example yung mga smuggling sa rice, agricultural products and others definitely may direct impact yan sa ating mga magsasaka,” ani Gaite.

Ayon sa BOC, para malabanan ang iligal na pagpasok ng mga produkto, bahagi ng kanilang 10-point priority program noon pang 2020 ang full automation ng frontline transactions, partikular na ang implementasyon ng no-contact policy.

Kasama rin sa 10-point priority program ang target na full implementation ng Customs Modernization Program na popondohan ng World Bank. —/mbmf (mula sa ulat ni UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Solon urges Senate to pass version of evacuation centers bill amid Typhoon Odette aftermath

Maris Federez   •   December 20, 2021


MANILA, Philippines — A member of the House of Representatives (HOR) has called on his counterpart in the Senate to pass its version of the Permanent Evacuation Centers Bill in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette.

Under House Bill No. 5259, evacuation centers must be durable and can withstand earthquakes, typhoons, or any calamities to ensure the protection of victims.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate said placing victims in schools and multi-purpose halls in  calamity-stricken areas has been the common practice.

This practice, he said, may still put victims in harm’s way because they are still in the same area.

In the House Bill, evacuations centers that will be built must be situated in an area that is accessible to all residents. This shall also serve as the barangay or village command center for the smooth flow of disaster response.

An evacuation center will have a storeroom for food and water, an isolation area, and a clinic. It will also have its own power generator and cell site in case of power and communication interruptions.

The House version of the bill has been approved in March 2021. Its version in the Senate, however, is still pending. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Senate to launch probe on smuggling of agri products

Maris Federez   •   December 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Committee of the Whole is set to launch an investigation on the alleged large-scale smuggling of agricultural products in the country on December 14.

This is after Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s privilege speech in the plenary where he talked about the ongoing corruption in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and rampant incidents of smuggling that affect farmers and the agricultural sector.

Sotto said that based on the BOC’s press releases, it has conducted 25 anti-smuggling operations from May to November this year that amounted close to Php1 billion.

Sotto said, however, these reports do not match the actual number of cases the agency files in court.

“If we are to base the efficacy of our fight against smuggling on the press releases of the Bureau of Customs, it seems like we are on top of the issue. But the big problem is, mukhang hangang PR lang talaga ang pagsugpo sa agricultural products smuggling,” Sotto said.

The BOC, in response, acknowledged Sotto’s pointing out of the discrepancy in their records.

BOC spokesperson Atty. Vincent Maronilla said they are ready to face any investigation that will shed light on the issues against their anti-agricultural smuggling efforts.

“We’re thankful to Sen. Sotto for bringing this concern of some disconnect in our records sa PRs namin and our records of cases filed,” Maronilla said.

“We’re open to any inquiry so we can thresh out whatever inconsistencies in our record or whatever clarifications might be needed in terms of our anti-agriculture smuggling efforts,” he added.

He also assured that they will file cases against whoever will be involved in smuggling.

“Lahat ng may involvement kinakasuhan namin. At the least pinasasagot sila kung may makitang pagkukulang on their part,” the BOC official said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

House solons want Bicam to prioritize COVID-19 response budget in deliberation

Maris Federez   •   December 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several members of the House of Representatives are hoping that the deliberation in the Bicameral Conference Committee will give priority to the COVID-19 response budget which they are pushing to receive bigger funding.

Bayan Muna Partylist Representative Carlos Zarate said that with the threat posed by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease, the government must set a bigger budget for a pandemic response for 2022.

“Nagluwag, pero eto may pumasok na naman. Itong Omicron variant na hindi pa natin alam kung ano ang magiging extent nung pananalasa nito. Kaya dapat lang talaga yung kalakhan ng budget ay nakatuon duon sa pandemic responses,” said Zarate.

In the Senate’s approved version of the Php5.024-trillion 2022 proposed national budget, the Department of Health budget was increased to Php230.11-billion. This is higher than the approved version of the House which is Php182.67-billion.

Senators realigned the budget of other government agencies to fund the benefits and compensation of healthcare workers.

Zarate said the Bicam must make some more cuts on the budget that the Senate has approved for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) amounting to around Php10-billion from the Php4-billion that the Upper Chamber has initially allotted to the said task force.

Zarate said the budget that is to be slashed from NTF-ELCAC must be added to the funds to be used in the COVID-19 response.

House Committee on Appropriations chairperson Representative Eric Go Yap said that even if there are contradicting provisions in the two versions, they will see to it that the 2022 budget will give weight to the COVID-19 response.

“While there may be conflicting provisions between the two, rest assured that our common end goal is to submit a budget that will sustain our COVID-19 response efforts while supporting our gradual transition to full recovery,” Yap said.

The national budget is targeted to be submitted to the Office of the President before December 25 for President Rodrigo Duterte. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)


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