THE chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs on Sunday called the attention of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) anew over its alleged inaction on the May 2019 discovery of 171 kilograms of shabu hidden inside aluminum pallets used in the shipment and delivery of tapioca starch, which was sold through auction by the bureau after a botched examination.
“Is the new Bureau of Customs administration sleeping on its job? I am calling the attention of Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero. It has been a year since, how come no investigation was conducted, concluded and released by the bureau? How come no charges have been filed yet? How come despite the endless promises of reform and reshuffle, the same people are still there in the positions of control and influence,” Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, the panel chairman, asked.
“I am reminded of the PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.) scandal. The new head depends on the old people in running the agency. No wonder in both agencies, the same results are happening over and over again. Worse, the new heads who are given the marching orders to implement reforms do not succeed in doing it, but the syndicates always succeed in getting them replaced for their failures. Is it always a case of “if you cant beat ‘em, join ‘em”?” Barbers said.
In 2018, then Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon was replaced over the P6-billion shabu smuggling.
Then his successor was replaced in 2019 over another shabu smuggling scandal, that of the magnetic lifters.
According to Barbers, it is common knowledge that drug syndicates will always use our ports to smuggle large quantities of illegal drugs, and every time it happens, the country is always at the mercy of the BoC.
He also mentioned the dozens of arrests and successful operations made by the law enforcers during the ECQ involving large quantities of illegal drugs that were probably smuggled through our ports.
“Perhaps it is time to make our yearly investigation of the Bureau.
If they are thinking that COVID has provided them a camouflage, they are terribly mistaken. We are not sleeping. We need to see an end to this case. We appeal to Commissioner Guerrero to pay attention and not allow this case to be his Achilles’ heel,” Barbers said.