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‘The long and winding’ Senate probe

  • Written by Paul M. Gutierrez
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 376

“MERCIFULLY” on the part of Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair -- and whom yours truly greatly respects -- Sen. Richard Gordon, he adjourned a few minutes before 2 p.m. yesterday, the probe on why 605 kilos of shabu managed to pass thru the Bureau of Customs (BoC) last May -- despite the purported “vigilance” of the ‘Grupong Magdalo’ headed by discredited Customs commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.

I say “mercifully,” “kapatid” na Lee Ann Patugalan because over the way Sen. Dick has been conducting the probe, it has greatly veered off from its original purpose as stated above. Kung saan-saan na napunta ang pagdinig, huhuhu!
     
Kailan ba kaya ito talaga matatapos? It has become too long, too winded -- and too distracted from its original purpose -- people have begun to ask: Where is Sen. Dick really headed?
     
I have to admit that after the fourth hearing, I stopped going to the Senate plenary to personally watch (and cover) the goings on in there, convinced that most of the next few hours would be spent going back to testimonies and details that have been “plowed over” many times in the previous hearings. Sayang na lang ang oras, tsk, tsk, tsk!
     
I mean, if Sen. Dick has a clear grasp as to what he wants to uncover and as to where matters should go, there would have been no need for the committee to summon other “personalities” like Davao vice mayor Paolo ‘Pulong’ Duterte -- and ended up arguing over the relevance of his body ‘tattoo’ to the smuggling of shabu.
     
In other words, there should have been recommendations by now as to:
     
First, what charges to be filed against all those involved and second, what interim measures, by way of suggestions, the Senate can give to new Customs commissioner, Isidro Lapeña, on how he should go about improving the systems and procedures in the agency.
     
Pati tuloy si Comm. Sid na ikalawang linggo pa lang sa puwesto ngayon, hindi makapagtrabaho nang husto dahil dito sa imbestigasyong ito na ang karamihan sa diskusyon, ang layo na sa tunay na isyu, hehehe, ayy, huhuhu!
     
At any rate, what caught my attention in yesterday’s hearing was Sen. Franklin Drilon loudly lobbying, err, pushing for the “re-introduction” of the discredited “pre-shipment inspection” (PSI) program as if this is a novelty at the waterfront.
     
Well knowing him to be of brilliant mind, I am sure Sen. Frank is already familiar with the PSI as he was a member of the Cory Aquino administration as DoJ secretary when the country first “experimented” with the PSI.
 
Whether he later on learned that the PSI is just another “racket” that never helped stopped smuggling but whose private “beneficiaries” reached up to the Office of the President, we really cannot say. To help refresh the good lawmaker’s memory, I am reprinting below my column on the PSI last June 10, 2017. Here it goes:

‘PSI/PLS’ won’t

solve corruption,

smuggling
    
“Last week, a good friend gave me a copy of a draft “AO” (administrative order) further amending AO-243 requiring for the mandatory ‘load port survey’ (LPS) of all “bulk” and “break bulk” cargoes.
    
“The draft AO now seeks to include all containerized cargoes, much like the situation in the past, during the first Aquino and Ramos administrations (1988 to 1998), when the government decided to give the ‘pre-shipment inspection’ (PSI) program to the Societe Generale des Surveillance (SGS).
     
“Back then, ‘technocrats’ loved to call this government-sanctioned scam, err, program, PSI -- ‘pre-shipment inspection’ but these days it’s called, PLS -- port loading survey.
     
“Back then, ‘technocrats’ loved to call this government-sanctioned scam, err, program, PSI -- ‘pre-shipment inspection’ but these days it’s called, PLS -- port loading survey.
     
“For with over a decade of actual experience to look back to insofar as the PSI/PLS is concerned, those who witnessed how the PSI involving containerized shipments worked, yours truly included, the only conclusion to be made is that the country is going to end up in the “same rotten dog, different collar” situation...
     
“… In case you’ve forgotten people, it was Pres. Erap who rescinded the SGS’s PSI contract when he became president in 1998.
     
“Let me tell you why, dear readers. Because contrary to the enthusiastic proclamations of the PSI program’s supporters, it has been proven -- repeatedly too, Pres. Rody -- that it NEVER helped in the campaign against smuggling; neither did it help solve the problem of graft and corruption in government.
     
“The fact of the matter is that, it made both problems worse. That is the long and short of it, Pres. Rody and DoF secretary, Sonny Dominguez...
     
“Aside from proving to be a phantom solution against smuggling, the PSI also nurtured into health, political corruption.
     
“Indeed, it became a “ritual” at Congress during the FVR years that each time the election season comes along, SGS officials would be hauled before a congressional hearing to answer for all ‘breaches’ in their contract with the government, the problem of smuggling always on top of the lawmakers’ “indignation…”
 
“… But what finally convinced Pres. Erap to terminate the PSI program is that when a lobbyist for the SGS approached him that similar to his predecessors, funds would be made available for “presidential projects” with the disbursement “discretionary” on his part.
     
“It was this discovery -- that even the country’s highest political office, the presidency, has already fallen prey to corruption (that has tainted the PSI program from the start) -- was what convinced Pres. Erap to shut down SGS operation for good.”