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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                      16  August 2011

“Philippine customs agents should be jailed”

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A ranking House of Representatives member said 14 officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) that should be booked for theft and smuggling after 1,910 container vans that hold high-duty goods went missing since January.

At the hearing by the House subcommittee Tariffs and Customs—which is under House committee ways and means—subpanel chair Representative Rodolfo Fariñas urged Customs officials to file theft and smuggling cases, among others, on those 14 officials after allegedly defrauding the government of P3.6 billion (US$84.5 million) worth of taxes.

“I would rather have them remain working in the government facing criminal sanctions than being dismissed without any criminal liability. Without criminal charges, these people will continue to live happily ever after committing a crime,” Farinas said before the panel.

Farinas was angered on finding the report of Customs Investigation Division chief Fernandino Tuason—who also attended the hearing—lacking in appropriate action.

Tuason said that they are set to file administrative charges such as grave misconduct and dismissal against the 14 BoC officials after allegedly being involved in the said issue.

Tuason, although he failed to name the officials involved, vowed to submit the investigation report.

Too, sub-committee vice chair Reynaldo Umali Mindoro Oriental also urged Tuason to file criminal charges against the end-users of the 1,910 missing container vans following the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) revelation that some consignees were registered under fictitious names and addresses.

Representative Elpidio Barzaga of Cavite advised Customs Commissioner Lito Alvarez to cleanse its list of accredited consignees, warning him against private people and companies conducting illegitimate activities in guise of legitimate transactions.

Alvarez—who also attended the subcommittee hearing—apologized for failing to issue a hold order on the delivery of shipments to Port of Batangas even after receiving a report on the missing container vans.

Meanwhile, Representative Representative Ma Milagros Magsaysay said that Alvarez should be removed from his post for failing to meet his collection targets.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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