The former director of the defunct Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the disappearance of more than 600 container vans allegedly containing smuggled assorted items.
Jeffrey Patawaran, former PASG Director for administration and finance, in his letter to NBI Director Magtanggol B. Gatduladated July 5 said he “received reliable reports on suddendisappearanceof cargoes for transshipment from the Port of Manila and Manila International Container Port to the Port of Batangas”.
These cargoes, he alleged, never reached “its port of destination —the Port of Batangas.”
In related development, Bureau of Customs chief Angelito Alvarez said that his office has already started the investigation of the 600 container vans that were reported missing.
He added that the investigation will determine whether or not the cargoes have reached the Port of Batangas.
The BOC chief had earlier instructed customs Batangas District Collector Juan Tan to submit a detailed report on the transhipments of Sea Eagle Trading, LCN Trading, and Moncelian Enterprises.
In his report to Alvarez, customs district collector Tan said that of the supposed more than 900 containers transhipped from POM and MICP, only 305 actually landed at the Port of Batangas—an admission that more than 600 container vans are missing!
The Port of Manila and MICP officials, however, stood pat saying the entire shipment of more than 900 containers were dispatched and received in Batangas as shown in their documents.
Port of Manila collector Roger Gatchalian insisted that they have documents to prove that containers from POM reached the Port of Batangas. They even presented boat-notes and documents to prove receipt of the alleged missing containers.
It can be noted that the transhipment of Sea Eagle Trading, LCN Trading, and Moncelian Enterprises were cited by the former PASG director in his request to the NBI.
Patawaran alleged that last February, a shipment of 20 container vans by Sea Eagle Trading were transshipped from Manila to Batangas but could not be found. Severalsimilarshipments, Patawaran added, suffered also the same fate.
He told the NBI in his letter that these missing shipments could be “verified with Director Marissa Galang.” Galang, a director with Port of Manila Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (POM-CIIS), reported the disappearance of the said containers to Director Filomeno Vicencio.
Curiously, the former PASG director narrated, “the 20 containers which have been allegedly alerted by Galang have disappeared into thin air; and, no one in the Port of Manila seem to know when the said shipment has left the port, as there were no entries on record.” “Neither is there any record of payment for the importation of the same,” Patawaran added.
The former director said “if this modus operandi were true, then these could explain the P2-billion shortfall in the collection of the Port of Batangas.” And, the disappearance of more than 600 containers has cost the government a revenue loss of approximately P1.7 Billion.
It is important that these alleged missing cargoes should be investigated to ferret out the truth in line with the present government’s thrust of “matuwid na daan”, the former PASG director said.
This is part of Patawaran’s continuing crusade in his fight against smuggling despite the abolition of the PASG. “The best body to conduct the probe is not the customs because the latter, itself, must do a lot of explaining on this reported missing containers,” Patawaran ended. CATHY CRUZ/ RAFFY RICO