MANILA - Why did the Bureau of Customs allow EMT Trading, the consignee of a shipment that contained P6.4 billion worth of shabu, to breeze through port security checks?
Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson had this to say on Monday when he pointed out that BOC officials should have been suspicious of EMT's shipment because it came from China, which is long believed to be a major source of narcotics smuggled into the country.
The source of the shipment, Lacson said, should have landed EMT in the BOC's red lane, instead of the green lane reserved for reputable companies whose shipments undergo minimal inspection.
"Red flag dapat agad 'pag China galing. That's included in your criteria sa selectivity system. 'Pag China, automatic na red [lane] e," the senator told BOC officials during a Senate inquiry into the incident.
Lacson added that EMT was a first time importer, another factor that should have placed the firm in the red lane,
"Then first time importer o first time importation, automatic red din. So dalawa na agad iyun, strike 2 na agad. Bakit nasa green?" he said.
"Bakit ganoon kalakas ang EMT?"
Under the BOC selectivity system, imported products pass through 4 lanes. Shipments in the super green lane only undergo minimal inspection while those in the green lane no longer go through inspection and document verification.
Products in the yellow lane meanwhile undergo document verification and those in the red lane go through 2 levels of inspection.
BOC Risk Management Office head Larribert Hilario failed to input the data that would have placed the EMT shipment in the proper lane, claimed Capt. Gerardo Gambala, deputy commissioner for BOC's Management Information System.
"He was not able to update the list of new importers para 'pag tumama siya sa parameters, it will either go through yellow, red or green," Gambala told Lacson.
Hilario however did not show up at Monday's hearing. BOC Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said Hilario "was nowhere to be found" since he was suspended over the EMT fiasco.
Lacson however said sources told him that Hilario was still reporting to the BOC.
Watch a live streaming of the Senate blue ribbon committee's inquiry into the issue here: