Anti-smuggling group hits lapses at Manila port

08/01/2010 - MANILA, Philippines - An anti-smuggling group has denounced erring customs officials for security lapses at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), resulting in the entry of unwanted goods in the country.

Mario Nieto, founding chairman of the Crusade Against White Collar Crimes, claimed that many importers have begun to import contraband cars, drugs, firearms and explosives and other commodities whose importation is classified as “regulated” through the MICP because of lax security procedures.

“A good number of smuggling cases can be blamed on security systems that are not utilized by personnel who continue to follow lax procedures at the MICP,” Nieto said.

Nieto, however, said both the MICP and the South Harbor already have facilities, like closed-circuit television systems and hundreds of security guards that can be used to gather intelligence and evidence but these are not utilized.

“When I was with EIIB (Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau), car smugglers usually brought in their contraband through ports outside of Manila, but there has been an alarming increase in the magnitude of smuggling not only of cars but of assorted kinds of items in Manila during the past few years,” he said, adding that corrupt government officials are not the only ones to blame.

“Policing Customs officials is only part of the fight against smuggling,” said Nieto, who also headed the research unit of the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group.

According to Nieto, port operators have to follow the strict security rules set by the International Maritime Organization, including high-level anti-terror provisions.

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