ROUGH CUTS| Making the anti-smuggling unit effective

GOOD THING that the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) is reacting with dispatch to the report reaching the city director’s office that three policemen assigned at the Buhangin Police Station

are allegedly protecting a former barangay captain and currently village councilor who was recently arrested by members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) XI in an illegal buy-bust operation.

According to DCPO spokesperson Sr. Insp. Ma. Teresita Gaspan the report is now being thoroughly investigated by the Investigation and Detection Management Branch of the command, adding that the DCPO will not just believe and act on something that is hearsay.

Yes, it would be grossly unfair to the three policemen accused of protecting a barangay official caught in a drug buy-bust solely on the basis of reports coming from members of the community. After all, no one can be certain if those who called the City Police Director’s Hot Line may have some axes to grind against the arrested suspect.

Nevertheless, we believe that the validation probe must be done fast but fair since what is involved here is not just the program of the police to cleanse its ranks of scalawags who are the ones causing the slow destruction of the police image. Delaying the investigation and in coming out with its outcome may be construed by the public as an attempt to cover up infractions committed by certain members of the PNP.

Of course, we know that for the past few months that Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum has been on the watch of the DCPO people have yet to hear of any indecision on his part with regards to police administrative and operational matters.

Therefore, the expectation of Davaoenos is that he will do the same insofar as the investigation into the reported protection by three members of the Buhangin Police Station on the arrested barangay councilor for involvement in the illegal drug trade.


Read this report?

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena has issued a memorandum to all of the agency’s district directors to coordinate with the regional offices of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to effectively form what Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III calls as Joint Anti-Smuggling Units in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

Now, is not that calling for “birds of the same feathers to flock together?”

Or should they add what is left, if there is, of the defunct Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau (EIIB) or its replacement group? But again, records of the latter agency clearly show it also bears the same feathers with the former two.

Why not Commissioner Lapena suggest to his boss to tap the country’s legitimate importers and brokers organizations as partners in the anti-smuggling efforts? For certain these groups would be more than willing to help redeem their image badly tarnished by the illegal activities of some of their own members or those that did not join them for vested interest reasons

The Customs Bureau can easily take some lessons on the impact of the Senate investigation into the smuggling of some P6.4 billion pesos worth of shabu into the country using money-greedy customs brokers who are using their clients’ humongous bottomless financial resources to buy customs officials’ decisions to release their illegal imports, or substantially reduce the real import duties due from the imported merchandise.

It was clear from the statements made by the Customs Broker handling the shipment containing the high-grade shabu that he paid millions of pesos to different personalities including those “faceless” ones but complete with names and aliases who the broker haven’t even met in person. And in that investigation, the Customs broker virtually led to the identities of people who claimed to be the “connections” from the real importer up to the “corrupted” Customs officials.

The result: Many importers and Customs brokers who profess they are “clean” are distancing themselves from those whose names were mentioned in the Senate Committee probe. In other words, it may be true that there are still many businessmen, importers to be more specific, and perhaps a few Customs brokers who are still doing their thing the legal way. But of course the undesirables among them should be shown their way out.

And we believe that the planned efforts to run after erring importers, brokers, and Customs personnel will be more effective if the organizations of these businessmen and those who are working for them facilitate the releases of their imports, get a significant share in the responsibility of policing their groups from its own scalawags.

Posted in Opinion