MANILA - Sen. Richard Gordon on Tuesday chided Chinese businessmen tagged in the smuggling of P6.4-billion shabu into the country after they claimed they did not know what was in the shipment.
"You are all saying you don't know what's in the box. I'll give you a scenario. Supposing that box contained a bomb and it exploded in your warehouse Mr. Chen and people died. Who'll be liable?" Gordon asked.
Addressing Kenneth Dong, Richard Chen and Manny Li, Gordon said it was their duty to know what was in the box.
"Hindi niyo pwedeng sabihin na 'we didn't know what was in the box.' It was your duty to know, to check especially during this time of terrorism," Gordon pointed out.
Gordon, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said that a shipment is weighed first before it goes on a ship because of the SOLAS convention, or the International Convention for the Safety of Life At Seas, which mandates standards on ship safety.
The senator said that when a shipment is heavier compared to what was declared as its cargo upon check at the Bureau of Customs' green lane, then it should have been inspected.
The green lane, where security checks are minimal, was where the 600-kg shabu shipment slipped through at the Manila port in May.
"Kung ginagawa ng customs ang trabaho ninyo, lahat 'yan titimbangin, then 'pag kinumpara sa entry document, ba't ganyan kabigat 'yan, dapat malaman natin kung anong laman niyan," Gordon said.
But Manila International Container Port (MICP) District Collector Vincent Philip Maronilla explained that they could no longer inspect the shipment if it was tagged to pass through the green lane.
"The problem with the shipment is if it’s tagged as "green lane," the Formal Entry Division is precluded from conducting any further examination or documentary check," he said.
But Gordon told customs officials that everything must go through the magna scale, as mandated before release, to determine if there's something wrong.
"If customs [officials] really use their heads, konting malasakit, they would have known dapat buksan ito," Gordon said.
The shabu shipment triggered investigations in both chambers of Congress and exposed corruption at the customs bureau. During Tuesday's hearing, customs broker Mark Taguba named several officials who allegedly take grease money to release illegal shipment.