'Aquino created the dirty mess at Customs', says former CSC chair - The Daily Sentry

'Aquino created the dirty mess at Customs', says former CSC chair

Ricardo Saludo and former President Benigno Aquino III, photo compiled from Google

Manila, Philippines - Ricardo Saludo, former chairperson of the Civil Service Commission under President Gloria Arroyo, in his Manila Times article said that it was the former administration of Aquino who’s to blame over Bureau of Customs’ mess.

Saludo alleged that the surge of illegal shipment erupted when Aquino appointed Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) chairman and businessman Alvarez as the Customs' chief.

The surge of smuggling

“How did this unprecedented eruption of contraband happen? The surge included narcotics, shabu labs, and guns, as Aquino himself admitted in his 2013 state of the nation address.” Saludo wrote

“It began in Aquino’s first month in office, when he interviewed for the post of Customs Commissioner businessman Joselito Alvarez and former BoC chief Guillermo Parayno, whose Ramos-era stint got him hired as IMF consultant in customs reform.” he added

The missing containers 

Saludo recalled the discovery of 2,000 containers that vanished in 2011, with their taxes yet to be paid while on the way from the Port of Manila (POM) and the Manila International Container Port (MICP) to the final port of destination in Batangas port.

Allegedly, Aquino never pushed for an investigation, not even then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.

“The scam finally ended after media exposé and Congress inquiry. But Aquino never had it investigated; nor did his handpicked Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.” Saludo said

“Yet it would have been so easy to find out who kept releasing thousands of containers, despite hundreds being lost in transit, and which importers were involved in the scheme. These suspects might then have pointed to higher-ups masterminding and protecting the unprecedented scam.” He continued*

What should be done

The former CSC chair also called on opposition senators; Francis Pangilinan, detained Leila de Lima, and Akbayan Risa Hontiveros who all slammed Duterte’s move to put BOC under military control for a while, but did not bother in the past to investigate the worst spate of smuggling in the country as well as the people in Customs who were involved.

“If the opposition wants to be taken seriously in criticizing the government, it should first learn to admit its far greater failings during Aquino’s rule.” Saludo added

“So, what should be done about the Bureau of Customs?” the columnist asked

Saludo also pointed out that, presence of military men in BOC might be a shock for them at first, but cleaning the corrupt-laden bureau might be really hard. However, he believes that “it’s far more likely that soldiers would be lured by payoffs worth 10, 50 or even 100-plus times their monthly salary.”

Opposition senators Risa Hontiveros, Kiko Pangilinan and Leila De Lima / composite photo from ABS CBN News

Source: Manila Times