By Mario Casayuran
Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday accused former Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon of ignorance of customs laws that he was supposed to enforce.
‘’Is it really smuggling? Or is it more like technical kotong?,’’ Lacson posed this question to Faeldon as their word war raged amid Faeldon’s repeated accusations of “smuggling” of cement against his son, Panfilo Lacson Jr.
“Is there such a thing as smuggling of cement between ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries? None, because there is zero tariff for cement under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Free Trade Area (AFTA), and even the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA),” Lacson said.
Faeldon made the accusations a day after Lacson delivered a privilege speech last week detailing corruption at the BOC, such as payoffs made to Customs officials, including Faeldon.
Lacson pointed out that an online tool of the Tariff Commission indicated Portland cement has zero tariff in the ACFTA, a free trade area between China and the 10 ASEAN member states, including the Philippines.
“What will you undervalue if there is zero tariff?” Lacson asked.
Lacson maintained that Faeldon was clearly lying when he claimed there was undervaluation in tariff,.
This allegation ‘’has no basis or, he was completely ignorant of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP),” he added.
Lacson also debunked Faeldon’s claim on freight costs, which he said is not for the BOC to decide, lest it will be guilty of abuse of discretion since it is between the supplier and the importer to agree on.
‘’Again, it shows his ignorance of existing Customs laws,” Lacson said.
Lacson said holding shipments and demanding tariff payments for items with zero tariffs could smack of “kotong” or extortion.
“He’s diverting from the issue. The issue is, is there corruption in the BOC? That question should be answered,” he said, adding Faeldon has so far kept quiet on how P6.4 billion worth of shabu (crystal meth) slipped past the BOC under his watch last May.
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