October 18, 2019
THE Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) has vowed to investigate the alleged smuggling of billions of pesos worth of steel billets and stainless steel by unscrupulous importers with the participation of brokers and corrupt employees of the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
“Their days are numbered. We have agreed to investigate,” Commissioner Manuelito Luna, who is in charge of the investigation, told The Manila Times.
He added that the PACC had identified their sources of information, the importers and their “contacts” inside the BoC.
Luna, however, refused to identify the erring importers, brokers and customs personnel.
“No stone will be left unturned. Even this early, we already would like to commend Customs Commissioner [Rey Leonardo] Guerrero and his team for their cooperation in the probe,” he added.
Luna also assured the public that his agency would go after the importers and their co-conspirators.
He added that criminal and administrative charges would be filed against anyone who will be found to have cheated the government of billions of pesos in customs duties and taxes, and in the production of sub-standard steel.
“PACC Chairman Dante Jimenez wanted all those involved charged for corruption, economic sabotage and other crimes, if warranted by the evidence,” Luna said. “We, therefore, call on the public to provide us with information or leads in order to further hasten our investigation.”
Earlier, the Customs bureau has assured the PACC and Congress that it would provide all the support and assistance in their investigation on the alleged collusion of some Customs officials with large steelmakers in the smuggling of substandard steel products which are now proliferating in the local market.
The BoC chief earlier said efforts to weed out misfits in the bureau will continue.
Customs Assistant Commissioner Vincent Philip Maronilla also told The Manila Times that four to five big steel companies were under post clearance audit to determine if the duties and taxes they paid were in order.
“This is industry wide. We are auditing at present four to five steel companies but there will be more as we go on,” Maronilla said.
The proliferation of substandard steel across the country have been documented by concerned groups. They said substandard steel was used in the construction of buildings damaged by typhoons in Leyte and Samar.
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