CAN you believe the alleged smuggling case filed against Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales?
The last time I checked, the Bureau of Customs was still the same outfit tasked to combat smuggling in this country.
But what do we have here: The head of the outfit, the one whose job is to stop smuggling, is facing a case of smuggling!
How can we stop smuggling if, based on reports on the Morales smuggling case, the top official of the BOC himself is alleged to be a smuggler?
That is why media greedily lapped the case filed by the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) against Morales.
I mean, really, that was no ordinary guy. That was the BOC capo di tutti capi handpicked by the Lola at the Palace herself.
By the way, the guys down here in my barangay just cannot understand why this country needs two outfits to catch smugglers.
To us, the existence of a ?presidential? anti-smuggling group only means that even the President of the Republic thinks the BOC is doing a lousy job.
Why would the President need another outfit to check on the BOC, right?
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Involved in the smuggling case is a small fuel importing outfit called Jetti Supply Distributor Inc.
According to PASG, with Jetti enjoying the ?protection? of Morales, the fuel importer was able to dupe the government by not paying, oh, only around P288 million in duties and taxes in the past two years alone.
And what sayeth Morales?
Well, the good commissioner questioned the capability?you know, the mathematical method and all that?of the PASG, how it came up with that P288-million figure.
Translation: Only the BOC knows how to compute duties and taxes. Is that it?
Look at that, faced with an embarrassing smuggling case, the head of our main antismuggling agency, could only question the math on the Jetti tax and duty payments.
Quick, somebody please tell the good commissioner that, whether the smuggling case involves P1 or P1 billion, does not really matter.
It is still smuggling. It is bad. You can go to prison. Sana.
* * *
Since the issue became an instant media hit, we could only expect some monkeys in Malacañang to ride on it.
According to one Palace official, for instance, the case filed by PASG against Jetti and Morales was proof that, when it comes to smuggling, this cute administration would not spare anyone. Bright!
This administration has been in power for the past eight years. How many cases did it file against BOC officials?
It is not as if that, in all those years, all the BOC officials were candidates for sainthood.
Quick, somebody please tell those Palace monkeys to shut up. They would only destroy the credibility of the PASG.
* * *
Nobody can deny PASG has done a good job.
Still, the case of Jetti is only a drop in the millions of buckets of fuel smuggling that is happening in this country.
The wonder of it all is that, well, fuel is a bulk product. You cannot transport it secretly, such as putting it in your pocket or something.
The smugglers must use those big, big trucks the size of Mindoro. I am sure those trucks are not easy to miss in the customs area.
And how many fuel smugglers have been caught? Yeah, none!
* * *
The thing is that the other oil companies, for the most part of our sad fuel story, are the ones getting the bad rap from media.
Let us say that world oil prices go up, and the oil companies must increase their pump prices. Immediately, some people (i.e., politicos) must condemn them to hell.
Yet the government takes a big portion of the pump prices of fuel through import taxes reaching all the way up to heaven.
Those big companies, I tell you, have to pay taxes dutifully. They are among the few firms in this country that are closely scrutinized by both the BOC and BIR.
All the while, fuel smuggling is taking place, with the help?at least based on the PASG findings?of our top antismuggling official. Aray!
* * *
From What I gathered, the election fever has attracted investments in private aircraft.
Just who among the presidential and senatorial hopefuls are buying all those helicopters and jet planes, our sources could not say.
It?s just that they must be extremely loaded. An ordinary chopper costs P10 million at least. Not everyone can afford that outrageous price, right?
And so some enterprising groups think that they have the math pinned down, believing that they can put up the capital to buy a mixed fleet of aircraft and rent them to candidates.
They figure that they can get all their money back by the time national elections are held in 2010.
I don?t know. In the past, most candidates simply borrowed aircraft from big business. You know, in exchange for, well, whatever!
A contact in the private aircraft renting business also told me that politicos are the stingiest of clients. So there!