Customs Davao Port Collector Aradanas was not sacked, BOC public info office says

(late upload oct 9, 2014 news)

The public information and assistance division (PIAD) of the Bureau of Customs Port of Davao has belied a news report published in Manila Bulletin last Tuesday that District Collector Ernesto Aradanas was sacked by Commissioner John Sevilla.

“As of this hour, we have not received any termination order for the district collector from Commissioner (John) Sevilla. Our District Collector is here and is busy working as usual,” said BOC Davao PIAD staffer Fatima Espino in an interview at the close of the Port’s office at Sasa Wharf at 5 P.M. Wednesday.

Aradanas just arrived last week from Indonesia where he as the BOC representative attended a BIMP-EAGA conference.

Tuesday’s news report written by Manila Bulletin reporter Raymund F. Antonio said that Commissioner Sevilla “reportedly sacked” Aradanas for allegedly allowing entry in the sub-port of General Santos City of smuggled oil products from Malaysia.

The report said that 260,000 liters of smuggled gasoline carried by M/T Elaine from Malaysia arrived last Sept. 6 at the sub-port of General Santos, which is under the jurisdiction of BOC-Davao.

Espino said that as to the issue on illegal oil shipment, Coll. Aradanas had only received the information about the smuggled oil from Jolo last Sept. 9 and on Sept. 12, after a call from Commissioner Sevilla, he issued a hold order to the subject cargo so the BOC can legally hold the shipment for further examination and investigation.

“Commissioner Aradanas then personally went to Dadiangas himself to personally look into it, and on the same day, he issued Alert Order (AO) No. 31-2014 in order to protect the interest of the government,” Espino said.

The OA would mean there would be no loading or unloading of the shipment, she added.

In BOC Davao’s subsequent investigation, Coll. Aradanas found out that the shipment left Jolo port last Sept. 2 and had reached the General Santos port on Sept. 4.

Espino said that the Jolo port is the port of entry of the shipment and that its consignee had paid an entry in the said port per letter rejoinder of the BOC Port of Zamboanga District Collector Atty. Enrico T. Turingan Jr. to the query-letter of Coll. Aradanas.

Subsequently, Aradanas issued a Writ of Seizure and Detention (WSD) on the shipment last Sept. 22.

As falsely reported earlier that the all the gasoline “was all gone”, Espino debunked it, saying that there are still “around 97,000 liters (that) remain in the vessel prior the issuance of the WSD.”

“Part of the shipment was released as a Philippine Coast Guard (unit) boarded the vessel after 1 day from arrival at Gensan, and it came to the knowledge of the Port of Davao 2 days after and immediately a hold order was issued followed by a WSD,” she said.

A separate report said that the Intelligence Group (IG) of the Bureau of Customs Manila uncovered the shipment as part of a “smuggling pipeline” between Malaysia and the Philippines starting from Sabah and ending at various ports in Mindanao.

Earlier, Deputy Commissioner Jessie Dellosa ordered a thorough investigation of the report they received and deployed a group of special investigators to verify reports that oil smuggling has been going on unhampered in Mindanao.

The group was under instruction to validate reports on the activities of M/T Elaine, a local carrier said to be owned by a local political figure from the Bicol region and which was reported to transporting smuggled oil products from Sabah, Malaysia.

When the IG, with the help of the local Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) unit finally located M/T Elaine at the LK wharf on the same day, they found several lorries/tankers being loaded with the supposed unprocessed oil product (“raw gas Sabah condensate”).

One of these tankers (DUM-026), when apprehended outside the wharf, was found to contain at least 20,000 liters of gasoline and which the IG believed was already for delivery to local customers.

Dellosa identified the consignee as ‘Noifrans Fuel Corporation based in South Cotabato and said to be owned by one ‘Jojo Fresco’ of Pigcawayan, North Cotabato. Fresco had surfaced to question the holding of the shipment, Dellosa said.

Pressures from the consignee mounted to release the shipment that Dellosa briefed Commissioner Sevilla on the issue last September 12, the report said.

Aradanas, a retired brigadier general, assumed as BOC Davao district collector last Feb. 3, 2014.

He is among the former military officers, who were assigned to the BOC from the Office of Revenue Agency Modernization (ORAM) of the Department of Finance (DOF) as part of the reform program.

He is known to be strict in implementing customs laws and a performing official that he is boosting further the district’s consistent higher collections, said BOC Davao insiders. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

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