PASG can be abolished once smuggling is totally ended by gov't– Villar

July 8, 2010 11:07 pm 

MANILA, July 8 — “Since our creation, I have repeatedly expressed PASG (Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group) is not needed if rampant smuggling is totally ended by the government, particularly by the Bureau of Customs.”

Thus stressed outgoing Secretary Antonio “Bebot” A. Villar Jr. on Thursday in response to the call of newly-appointed Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez for the abolition of the PASG.

Villar said that if Alvarez can assure the government and the Filipino people that there will be no smuggling under his command, then an anti-smuggling body is definitely of no use.

To give way to the call of Alvarez and to favor the administration of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, PASG Administration and Finance Director Jeffrey B. Patawaran, in behalf of Villar, went to the office of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. to turn over all documents, particularly the folders of cases filed by PASG, as well as the custody of the evidence involving P250 million worth of jewelry and loose stones which are stored at the vault of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) at the expense of PASG.

However, the office of Ochoa refused to receive the documents allegedly due to lack of directive from the executive office.

Patawaran said that the reason that the personnel of PASG have remained in office is in compliance with Memorandum Circular No. 1, as PASG awaits further directives on formal turnover of all the documents, evidence, and office equipment in its custody.

In relation to Alvarez’s call for abolition of PASG, Patawaran said, “We are ready to vacate our posts if we receive the directive of a formal turnover,” adding that if President Aquino is convinced that PASG is no longer of use, then the office will be immediately vacated.

“The observation on favorable collection of BOC could not have been realized without PASG. And, having reasonable collection does not equate to the complete eradication of smuggling,” said Patawaran, asserting that Alvarez has just stepped into BOC and is yet to prove his credibility in ending smuggling in the country.

He stressed that PASG, with just 112 operatives compared to more than 5,000 personnel of BOC, drowned the accomplishments of other anti-smuggling and special task forces created by former presidents since 1966.

To name some, Patawaran recalled the PASG apprehension of some P15 billion worth of shabu in Subic and the 19.35 kilos of cocaine worth P76 million in Eastern Samar.

PASG has also confiscated more than P250 million worth of loose diamonds and precious pieces of jewelry in Pasig City and P500 million worth of frozen meat and farm products. An multibillion-peso oil smuggling case was also uncovered by PASG that led to the filing of cases against Oilink, TriSolid, and Jetti Oil Distribution Inc. (PNA)



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