Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Subic volunteers remembered


SUBIC BAY - Newly-installed officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) on Wednesday recognized the contribution of residents of Olongapo City and nearby areas who helped man the Subic Bay Free Port right after the former United States military base was turned over to the Philippine government in 1992.

In a program celebrating “Volunteers Day” here, SBMA Chairman Jose Licuanan III and SBMA Administrator Alfredo Antonio stressed that cooperation among various stakeholders in Subic is necessary for economic success.

Antonio and Licuanan, who took over the SBMA on October 16, joined local officials in paying tribute to Subic’s volunteers, mostly former base workers, who gave their services for free during the first few years of Subic under the Philippine-government management.

Sen. Richard Gordon, who became the first SBMA chairman, was the guest of honor during the celebration, which included a victory march from Mariquit Park in Olongapo to the free port’s central business district.

Antonio, who urged SBMA employees and former volunteers to work hand in hand to further develop Subic, stressed in his message the continuing need for individual initiative and selflessness that the Subic volunteers personified.

“You have proven what the Filipino is capable of becoming and achieving… Today, your greatest challenge is to inspire more Filipinos to become more genuinely committed to the common good,” Antonio said.

He also told the volunteers that the current SBMA administration is determined “to build upon whatever you have achieved and left here in Subic.”

Licuanan similarly praised the volunteers for helping build the foundation of the free port, adding that people working together for the common good “may be the only hope of our nation.”

Noting that the history of Subic mirrors that of the country, Licuanan said that volunteerism is necessary “if we are to dig ourselves out of this downward [economic] spiral.”

Meanwhile, Gordon recalled in an emotional speech the early days of SBMA when he called upon Olongapo residents to help him preserve the former military base.

“We have gone a long way. So many people said that it cannot be done, but here we are all today, celebrating Volunteers Day. We have gone through so much [and we have earned] the respect of the world because of our dedication and efforts,” Gordon told the volunteers.

During the program, Gordon also led the volunteers in offering flowers and prayers to former volunteer and SBMA chief operating officer Ferdinand Aristorenas who died in 2001.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

EMPOWERING A SENIOR OFFICIAL OF THE SUBIC BAY METROPOLITAN AUTHORITY TO COMBAT VIOLATIONS OF CUSTOMS LAWS AT THE SBMA AREA

MALACA√ĎANG

Manila

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPINES

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 384

EMPOWERING A SENIOR OFFICIAL OF THE SUBIC BAY METROPOLITAN AUTHORITY TO COMBAT VIOLATIONS OF CUSTOMS LAWS AT THE SBMA AREA

WHEREAS, the development of Subic and Clark as the best logistics hub in the region is the one of the ten points of the legacy agenda of the Administration;

WHEREAS, large-scale smuggling and fraud upon customs and other related practices undermine the economy and national security;

WHEREAS, the prevention and suppression of smuggling and other related practices against customs laws at the Subic Bay Freeport and all areas under jurisdiction of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is one of the urgent concerns of the Administration;

WHEREAS, the empowerment of the Senior SBMA Official to combat violations of customs laws at the SBMA are is necessary to effective counteract this form of economic sabotage, strengthen the system enforcing revenue law, and hasten the realization of one of the 10-point agenda:

WHEREAS, the Administrative Code of 1987 vests the President with the continuing authority to recognize the Office of the President and to transfer functions of one department or agency to another:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the power vested I me by law, do hereby order:

SECTION 1. EMPOWERMENT OF SENIOR SBMA OFFICIAL. The President shall designate a Senior SBMA official to combat smuggling, unlawful importations, and other frauds upon customs laws committed at the Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone (SSEFZ) area. He shall be recognized as the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling.

SECTION 2. DETAIL OF PERSONNEL. The SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling is hereby authorized to obtain the detail to him of personnel from the Intelligence Service Armed Force of the Philippines, the Armed Force of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police. He is likewise authorized to obtain augmentation of personnel from the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Justice for the issuance of warrants of seizure and detention, investigation and prosecution. He shall designate his deputy.

SECTION 3. POWER AND FUNCTIONS. The SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling shall have the following powers and functions:

Prepare and implement appropriate and effective measures to prevent and suppress large-scale smuggling and other prohibited and unlawful importations at the SSEFZ area.
Effects, subject to applicable laws, searches, seizure and arrest, and file administrative and criminal cases conformably with the provisions of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, as amended, pertinent provisions of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. And the Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Conduct intelligence and counterintelligence operations, including the monitoring of situation, circumstances, and activities of individuals, groups and entities who are involved in or who are reasonably believed to be behind smuggling activities.
Select and recruit personnel from SBMA, and officers, enlisted personnel and civilian agents from the AFP, the PNP and the Coast Guard as well as Customs and DOJ personnel who will be in detail with him.
Enlist the assistance of any department, bureau, office or agency of the government to carry out its functions, including the use of their personnel facilities and other resources.
Conduct verification with the Bureau of Customs of all documents pertaining to the importation and the payment of duties and taxes of al imported articles.
Perform such functions and carry such activities as may be directed by the President.
SECTION. 4. SPECIAL PROCECUTORS. To assist the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling in the expeditious prosecution of criminal and other cases involving large-scale smuggling and customs frauds. DOJ layers shall be placed on detail with the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling as the need arises.

SECTION 5. AUTHORIZATION. The Commissioner of the Customs or his authorized representative shall, if necessary issue such authorization and orders required under the Tariff and Customs Code for all purposes relevant to the effective exercise and performance of the powers and functions of the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling.

SECTION 6. FUNDING. – Subject to the usual audit, the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling shall be provided with an allocation to be determined by the Chairman of the SBMA. To be sourced from the SBMA.

SECTION 7. OPERATING GUIDELINES. The SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling shall adopt. In coordination with customs law enforcement agencies, such operating guidelines as may be necessary to implement this Executive Order. He shall submit to the SBMA Chairman reports of his activities with appropriate recommendations for the information and guidance of the SBMA Chairman.

SECTION 8. COORDINATING INSTRUCTIONS. Close coordination and cooperation shall be undertaken by the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling with the Bureau of Customs, Philippine Ports Authority, ISAFP, NICA, AFP, PNP, BIR, LTO, Philippine Coast Guard, SBMA, and all other agencies which may be involved in carrying out the mission and functions of the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling.

SECTION 9. REPEALING CLAUSE. All orders, issuances, rules and regulations or parts thereof which are inconsistent with this Executive Order are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.

SECTION 10. EFFECTIVITY. This Executive order shall take effect immediately upon its publication in a newspaper of national circulation.

Done in the City of Manila, this 18th day of November in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Four.

(Sgd.) GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO

By the President:

(Sdg.)EDUARDO R. ERMITA

Executive Secretary

Sunday, November 07, 2004

GORDON WANTS SMUGGLER'S LIST

Senator Richard Gordon condemned the officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for not having any official watchlist of top smugglers in the midst of investigations on alleged smuggling activities in Subic, Clark and other crucial exit points in the country. During the Senate investigative hearing today of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce, BOC Commissioner George Jereos admitted, through Gordon's prodding, that they do not have an order of battle against smugglers explaining that the bureau's head of intelligence has just resigned from his post two weeks ago, hence, they cannot produce the said information being asked. Gordon criticized the bureau officials' dereliction of responsibility, adding that they should be properly charged legally. “If there is no list, then you are all in neglect of duty, so gross that all of you are liable for the anti-graft and corrupt practice act because you are not doing your duty,” Gordon told the officials.
At an earlier forum with members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines today, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reported strides under her administration against smuggling saying that the BOC and the law enforcement agencies such as the PNP and the AFP as well as the Coast Guard have an order of battle against an identified list of 200 smugglers. “I am flabbergasted that the BOC do not have the records and listings concerning the smuggling in the country,” Gordon said adding that “we are talking here not just of smuggling of cigars and liquors but also of vegetables, ‘ukay-ukay' merchandise, cellphones, drugs, and vehicles. There have been individuals convicted because of drugs but nobody has ever been jailed because of smuggling. It is time that we nail them.”
Gordon asked committee chairman Senator Mar Roxas to “subpoena the BOC of all the records including a watchlist of all the people involved in smuggling in Subic, Clark and other sensitive areas in the country” so that they will be able to identify who are involved and immediately take necessary actions against them. He also presented a partial listing of cigars and cigarettes brought in through Subic and Clark from 2001 to 2003. The records showed that 15 billion pesos worth of cigarettes and liquor have been brought in to Subic and Clark without any documentation on where they went