By Betheena Unite
At least one platoon from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been deployed in each port in the country to assist the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in its operations, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said.
The customs chief said the bureau and the AFP were still finalizing the deployment plan, however, at least a platoon in various areas have started assisting the bureau.
“Per area may naka-dedicate na at least one platoon,” Guerrero said.
“Ngayon may mga AFP on call sa different district collections namin. Naka-stand by sila, anytime na magkakaroon kami ng mga operations, ready naman sila, sinusuportahan naman nila yung personnel requirements (As of now, there are AFP members on call in different district collections. They are on stand by, so they are ready to support personnel requirements during operations),” Guerrero added.
The commissioner added that the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has deployed additional 40 men to intensify border security at the Port of Manila (POM) and Manila International Container Port (MICP).
Guerrero was present during the commissioning of two anti-smuggling vessels at the PCG headquarters, where he personally had a look on the fast patrol boats that will be jointly used by the BOC and PCG in anti-smuggling missions in Mindanao.
Customs agents will also be deployed to man the vessels but they have to undergo training first, the Customs chief said.
“To operate a patrol boat, you need a specialized skill. I do not think na kaya naming i-develop ‘yung capability na ‘yun even after five years,” Guerrero said.
He, however, mentioned that with the current coordination of the PCG and BOC, the Coast Guard has posted accomplishments “with the information coming from Customs personnel.”
“Sunod-sunod yung seizure natin ng smuggled rice doon sa Mindanao. Meron din tayo dito sa may Batangas and Subic, meron din tayong mga huli, mga fuel smuggling naman. Iba-ibang items ang nasasabat natin and of course accomplishment ng Coast Guard (We had a seized a series of smuggled rice in Mindanao. We were also able to intercept fuel smuggling in Batangas and Subic. We were able to seize various items and of course it’s the accomplishment of Coast Guard),” he said.
In November last year, the BOC, AFP, and PCG signed a memorandum of agreement to carry out tasks in preventing large-scale smuggling and the proliferation of illegal drugs into the country through its ports.
It was a directive from the President after an P11-billion shipment of shabu slipped through the bureau. (Betheena Kae Unite)