Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

SBMA law enforcer, customs agents arrested for smuggle try

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC) are carrying out an investigation into the involvement of some of their agents in smuggling following the interception of an estimated P2 million worth of imported cigarettes and liquor.

A team of Task Force Subic led by Major Michael Bawayan Jr., caught eight smuggling suspects and the contrabands in four vehicles after a wild chase which started at 4:00 a.m. from this Freeport through the forest-lined road leading to Morong, Bataan, last Saturday.

A Customs policeman and a member of the SBMA's Law Enforcement Division, who were escorting the smuggled goods were among the eight suspects arrested.

Anti-Smuggling task force Ret. Gen. Jose Calimlim, said he is withholding the identity of the two government agents until a thorough investigation is conducted on the possible link of other Customs and LED personnel with the smuggling ring.

Calimlim stressed that the mandate of the Task Force Subic is not just to go after smugglers but also to fight corruption and other illegal activities in the Freeport.

Six of the eight smugglers were identified as Diosdado Tayag, 43; Alberto Balenton, 37; Virgilio Jocson, 52; Alex Tirva Pineda, 42; Alberto De Guzman Rodigal, 31; and David Ramon Santos.

The contrabands were loaded into two Mitsubishi L300 vans (ZGS-401/CPV-347), one Nissan Exalta car (ZSR-128) and a Mitsubishi Lancer car (URW-971).

Tayag was reportedly the owner of the smuggled cigarettes and liquor as he is the registered owner of the two vans but he claimed that his vehicles were hired by a certain Agnes Pineda of Juliana Subdivision, City of San Fernando.

Tayag also claimed that Pineda paid him P7,000 for the use of each vehicle.

Calimlim said Tayag was arrested while driving the Nissan car while the Customs policeman and SBMA lawman were on board the Mitsubishi Lancer escorting the group.

The confiscated items were 101 boxes of imported Champion-brand cigarettes, each containing 500 reams; 300 bottles of Elysee sparkling wine and 120 bottles of Jose Cuervo Margarita mix. (PNA)

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