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Thread: Dog Fight for a bone

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  1. Default Dog Fight for a bone 
    #1
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    The Manila Standard Today
    Jan. 14, 2008

    Palace group-Customs row on smuggled cars worsens
    By Joyce Pangco Pañares

    THE quarrel between Malacañang and Customs worsened yesterday after the Palace blamed a Customs official for the continuing smuggling at the agency.

    The head of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group called a ranking Customs official the “godfather of smuggling” in the country, blaming him for the continuing operation of 37 people who allegedly smuggle luxury cars from Metro Manila and Cebu alone.

    Group head Antonio Villar said the official was making millions of pesos out of each luxury car smuggled in, but did not name him.

    “It goes all the way up to this official,” he said.

    “He is the godfather of smuggling in the Philippines. Smuggling has become so centralized and he has become a multi-millionaire because of this.”

    Villar made the statement even as President Arroyo appointed Nicasio Radovan Jr., formerly chief of the Southern Tagalog police, as director of the Customs Enforcement and Security Service—a critical unit in the government’s anti-smuggling campaign.

    Radovan replaces retired Gen. Nestor Gualberto, who will now head up the agency’s Financial Services Division replacing acting chief Edna Barrida.

    Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales welcomed Radovan, saying his experience as a police officer would be a big help to his agency.

    Villar said his team was now collecting evidence against the Customs official he accuses of smuggling, “so as to nail not only the small players but the biggest of them all.”

    He said his group was now running after the 37 top smugglers, and of whom seven operated in Cebu while the rest were scattered all over Metro Manila.

    He named a Romy Ronquillo in particular, who is accused of operating car centers in Xavierville, Quezon City, and in Ortigas, Pasig City, that allegedly offer smuggled luxury vehicles.

    “We have been trying to get a warrant for seizure and detention for Ronquillo from Customs for one month now, but the Customs people are taking their sweet time,” he said, adding Ronquillo had already moved out some of the smuggled cars as a result.

    Villar said Ronquillo had even dropped the name of presidential son and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, Villar’s godson, to warn his group to leave him alone.

    “But when I called up Mikey [Arroyo], he told me, ‘Ninong, go after that guy. Put that guy behind bars’, so it is now up to Customs.”

    Villar said Ronquillo paid only P600,000 in taxes for four Hummers, which cost between P6 million and 10 million each.

    Last month, Villar’s group seized 81 luxury cars from an automobile firm in Makati City, of which three reportedly were owned by San Juan Mayor Jose Victor Ejercito.

    Albay Rep. Al Francis Bichara reportedly owned four of the smuggled vehicles, while comedian Willie Revillame admitted owning a 2006 Ferrari, which was declared as being worth only P1 million.

    The cars were seized from Auto sports 24 Corp. in Pasong Tamo, Makati, along with a Lamborghini, 21 BMWs, 16 Mercedez Benzes, 11 Porsche sports cars, four Jaguars, three Volvos, Ferraris, Carera, Boxter, Land Cruisers, Range Rovers, Cherokee and a Mini Cooper. With Joel E. Zurbano

    Remarks:
    It is very appalling to know both are in the Government but they are pushing, cursing each other for the blame. Why can't the Government put more teeth by putting severe measures in implementing the fundamental laws about smuggling. As far as I can recall, I haven't read names of big fish in the Customs being removed or indicted due to malpractices. AFP at PNP ang laging nagtaktakan sa position o nakasuhan.
     

  2. Default Perhaps because the Government itself....... 
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    ........is up to its neck in all of this. Nobody gets caught or prosecuted because they all know too many other important people whom they can implicate in either their own crimes or others.

    Look at General Garcia - not caught by any regulators or prosecutors here but because US customs arrest one of the sons for carrying $100,000 then they have to do something. This guy and his family had a fabulous and showy lifestyle so everyone here knew that it wasn't from a soldier's pay. He also possessed a Green Card which is close to Treason I would imagine. There doesn't seem to be much haste to prosecute him does there? Is that because he knows too much?

    That $100,000 is an obscene amount when you consider the poverty and the need for investment in the country yet it is only a very small fraction of the amount that this 'distinguished' soldier has pocketed.

    The Philippines is not really as poor as it seems, it's just that most of the money is going missing along the way. This then gets compounded by the vast majority of taxpayers 'cheating' on their tax - but can you call this cheating when everyone knows that what they pay will suffer 'irregularities' before it reaches a point where it can do some good for the country.

    I remember attending a public BIR meeting in Manila a few years ago where the Head of the BIR in the Philippines was questioned by a woman who claimed her sister in Olongapo had a small store/cafe with three game machines. The BIR assessor charged her P100,000 which was close to six months revenue and when she protested he said "Just give me P10,000 and I'll give you a receipt for P5,000. The BIR Head then said "When this happens you must come to me directly, no-one else, and I will organise some entrapment". We all knew he was really saying "Come to me and I will find a way to shut you up".

    I wish I had a solution to suggest!
     

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