House Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin gave Customs officials a tongue lashing over their management of the agency amid the smuggling of shabu, bringing one consultant to tears.
With the principal resource persons unable to attend the Ways and Means Committee Hearing since they were attending a similar probe at the Senate, congressmen were left to grilling lower ranking officials of the agency.
Ways and Means Committee Chair Carlo Cua announced the possibility of another hearing on Friday afternoon because of the absence of the officials.
Garin first questionned lawyer Michael John Humarang of the DOJ because there have been no cases filed yet over the shabu seized in Valenzuela last may valued at over P6B.
Humarang explained that only one case has been filed, against the caretaker of the warehouse, Fidel Anoche Dy, and that they have to wait for the complaint to be filed by law enforcement agencies like the BOC. so far no other complaint has been filed by the BOC. he also explained that they only the Justice Secretary has motu propio powers or the filing of cases.
Garin noted there is inaction on the part of the NBI and BOC who appear to be waiting for each other.
Garin next grilled Customs Commissionner Nicanor Faeldon’s Chief of Staff Mandy Anderson over a unit which is concerned with smuggling. Anderson tried to refer to question to Port Operations Service Director James Layug who she said would be more competent to answer the question.
Garin next grilled Layug over the hiring of military men, asking what are their qualifications for anti-smuggling operations. Garin pointed out there are many others qualified for the job yet the bureau under Faeldon hired technical assistants. Garin reports they bypassed many in the ranks when they hired about 1000 contractuals, most of whom are military men. Garin doubts if this was an attempt to centralize bribes and opined that this made customs employees useless. Garin says that the message appears to be that they dont trust Customs employees.
Garin also asked what do military men know about assessment of shipment, Layug used to servce in the Navy when asked what is his background.
Garin then went back to Anderson and grilled her what is her background in customs, noting that she is a recent bar examinee and had just been working in a law firm, questionning her qualifications to be a decision maker in customs. Garin noted that this is the same Anderson who rejected a recommendation for promotion from Speaker Alvarez.
Anderson clarified she did not reject the recommendation and admitted she has no customs background.
Then Garin called Althea Acas, a consultant who introduced herself as a Customs Policy exper for the Finance department. Garin asked acas how come they had different interpretations for the regulation on balikbayan boxes. Acas maintained it was a DOF decision. Garin asked why there are now pre-alert orders when these have been abused and which is why Congress put grounds in the law for the issuance of alert orders.
Garin then told all the officials that they are all new, even the lawyer fiancee of faeldon whom he consulted during the raid. Garin also questionned the qualification of Deputy Commissionner Gerardo Gambala, noting he was only in the Oakwood mutiny.
when Acas tried to respond, Garin cut her off “you are not recognized”
Garin then reported that she has video of Acas shouting at people who were asking about the Customs in a public consultation, where Acas supposedly shouted at someone that he wasnt reading on the law.
In tears, Acas then got to explain thats because they published the content of the public consultation 7 days before, insisting that the one she was shouting at was not prepared.
Garin then let loose her frustration since she is one of the authors of the Customs and Tarif Modernization Act.
later in the hearing, PBA Party List Rep Jericho Nograles quizzed Anoche Dy, so far the only one charged for the shabu raid in valenzuela last May. Anoche Dy, the caretaker of the warehouse that kept the shabu shimpment, told Nograles that a certain JumingJu, whome he said was a Taiwanese, is his boss. however one Jun Wang, whom he said was a Filipino, was the one paying his salary. Anoche Dy told Nograles upon questionning that there were 4 shipments to arrive in that ware house last year and that he witnessed how these wer unloaded. Anoche Dy also said that the CCTV in that warehouse was working. Ancohe Dy said he signed the delivery reciept.
Nograles moved to issue a subpoena for the CCTV of the warehouse. Anoche Dy recalled that the May 2017 shipment is similar to shipment last January in terms of looks.
Anoche Dy then let go of his emotions and bewailed that he is innocent and yet he is the one charged.
Anoche dy said he believed jumingjuresided in a hotel and said his sister may have a pictire since he photocopied jumingju’s passport. he believed jumingju gave instructions to Jun wang.he believed that the 2 were just in their 30s.
Anoche dy coundlt be sure that the shipment in january also had drugs. Nograles later on told media in a viber message, “It is such an uncomfortable reality that the Customs systems have been abused by the drug lords. Our resource person in the Committee on Ways and Means, Mr. Fidel Anoche Dee revealed that there could have been P3B worth of Shabu that passed through Customs last January 2017. Isang warehouse pa lang ito. Sa Manila pa lang ito. Paano pa sa ibang probinsiya? God help us.”