Solon fears x-ray machine transfer may abet smuggling in South port

December 16, 2018

ASIDE from misdeclaration and lane-switching, a new modus called “swinging” is now being employed by syndicates to smuggle into the country various contraband, Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) party-list Rep. Jericho “Koko” Nograles bared Sunday.

Nograles said ”swinging” operation has allegedly become possible at the Mindanao International Container Terminal Services Inc. (MICT) at the Phividec Industrial Estate complex after certain Bureau of Customs (BoC) officials decided to transfer the mobile x-ray machine out of the designated examination area.

He said the decision to transfer the mobile x-ray from the examination area is not only suspicious as this would makes it easier for smugglers to “swing” their containers in and out of the MICT, adding it is also very dangerous considering the continuing threat of terrorism in Mindanao.

Nograles noted that Congress has decided to extend Martial Law in Mindanao because of the lingering security problem in the region.

“Due to Martial Law in Mindanao, the MICT and other seaports and free ports in Mindanao must have strict monitoring of incoming and outgoing shipments. This questionable decision to transfer the x-ray is truly very alarming and highly suspicious. Mukhang may mga kababalaghang nangyayari dito,” Nograles said.

He said that what is even more suspicious is the absence of any official memorandum or directive coming from the BoC head office which would have prompted the transfer of the x-ray machine.

Nograles said that he has already informed Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero about this anomaly in a letter dated November 20, 2018 but he has yet to receive any feedback from him.

“This representation is in receipt of reports that X-ray machine of the Bureau of Customs in Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental was moved away from the Designated Examination area since 10 September 2018. Further said reports received by thus office claim that there was no documented legal order to cease all examinations in the Designated Examination area,” Nograles said in his letter to Guerrero.

“The lack of proper inspection is alarming, as it is not just violative of the laws, rules, and regulations, it allows contraband to enter Mindanao,” Nograles added.

He noted that only recently, 51 shipping containers filled with garbage from South Korea was discovered and seized at the MICT.

“This shows the brazenness of these smugglers. Trying to smuggle in 51 containers filled with garbage shows their confidence that they can pass through customs. Something must have gone wrong along the way and that’s why the shipment was discovered,” Nograles said.

In this modus, Nograles said, containers are sneaked out of the port to be unloaded in nearby warehouses.

He said the same containers are then brought back to the MICT for dummy inspection and documentation.

“They call this swinging operation or swinging. In this modus, no shipment is missing since all containers are all accounted for. Containers that contain smuggled goods are unloaded before documentation and this become possible because the containers no longer pass through the examination area,” said Nograles.