DAVAO PORT CUSTOMS OFFICIAL LINKED TO MALAYSIA-INDONESIA-PHILIPINES ‘OIL SMUGGLING PIPELINE’

Davao Customs collector leaves post; wants impartial probe on oil smuggling

MALAYSIA-INDONESIA-PHILIPINES ‘OIL SMUGGLING PIPELINE’

Bureau of Customs Commissioner John Sevilla has slapped walking papers against the Port of Davao District Collector over millions of pesos worth of smuggled oil.

ERNESTO ARADANAS, Davao Port Collector of Customs
ERNESTO ARADANAS, Davao Port Collector of Customs

But a defiant Collector Ernesto Aradanas left his post on Tuesday in fighting mode calling for an impartial investigation on the alleged oil smuggling.

He also stressed that “he did not resign.”

Accordingly, Sevilla sacked Aradanas for allowing the illegal entry of 260,000 liters of smuggled gasoline at the Sub-Port of General Santos.

The contraband, authorities said, entered the country through the “Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines oil smuggling pipeline,” long used by smugglers who pay off officials of the Bureau of Customs, among the most corrupt agency of the government,  to allow entry of the contraband oil.

In a press statement, Aradanas said “I requested for an impartial investigation of the alleged oil smuggling, because I believe the Port of Davao did what is the most appropriate process and protocol in addressing the issue.”

“I am saddened by the arbitrary decision of Commissioner (John Sevilla) for my termination, who may be fed of inaccurate information. When objective consideration of facts and when due process are junked, arrogance and abuse of authority follow, then ‘reforms’ are doomed,” Aradanas said in a statement.

He hoped the “truth and justice will prevail in the end.” He denied that he allowed the illegal entry of 260,000 liters of smuggled gasoline at the Sub-Port of General Santos.

“When the said oil shipment arrived at General Santos City, it is considered a domestic cargo because it already entered at the Sub-Port of Jolo, Sulu which was cleared by the Customs authorities of the port upon compliance with the required Customs formalities including submission of pertinent documents like Load Port Survey Report issued by Bureau Veritas and payment of the duties, taxes and other charges due thereon,” the embattled Davao district collector explained.

“Section 1202 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines provides: Importation is deemed terminated upon payment of the duties, taxes and other charges due upon the articles, or secured to be paid, at a port of entry and the legal permit withdrawal shall have been granted,” he added.

According to Aradanas, he issued first an Alert Order while the hearing on the existence of probable cause was on-going in compliance with the due process of law as required by Section 2535 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines to protect the interest of the government.

“I eventually issued the Warrant of Seizure and Detention on 23 September 2014 on the day I left for the 8th BIMP-EAGA Heads of Customs Meeting in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, Indonesia, even when our fact finding was not yet complete,” he added.

“The shipments integrity remains as it was at the moment when the Commissioner gave me a “direct order” to issue WSD (12 September 2014) without established probable cause by the Port of Davao, contrary to the insinuation that I delayed the process to allow the illegal discharge of the said shipment,” Aradanas emphasized.

Aradanas dismissed reports indicating him to belong to the “corrupt and non-performing officials” being rid as part of the new policy direction of BOC.

He pointed to his accomplishments as District Collector of the Port of Davao being one of the best performing Collection Districts of Bureau of Customs.

In fact, He said the Commissioner himself gave the Port of Davao a Plaque of Commendation just very recently for outstanding performance for the past months.”

“It is heartwarming though to note, that the men and women of the Port reacted and came to my defense through open letters and manifestos addressed to the Honorable Secretary of Finance Cesar V. Purisima and to the Honorable Commissioner of Customs attesting to my good leadership and our outstanding accomplishments,” he said.

“I hope for an impartial investigation of the case, not really to hold on to my post but more so to set the records straight and somehow recognize the organizational dysfunction that transpired which emanated from the Intelligence Group of Bureau of Customs. When institutional systems and the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP) will be replaced by personal biases the good intentions of the customs transformation is lost,” Aradanas’ statement concluded. (PNA)

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