Nov. 25, 2016 – Press Conference of Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Thomas Orbos and Bureau of Customs Acting Spokesperson for Enforcement and Intelligence Operations Neil Estrella
|Press Conference of Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Thomas Orbos and Bureau of Customs Acting Spokesperson for Enforcement and Intelligence Operations Neil Estrella|
|Press Briefing Room, New Executive Bldg., Malacañang|
|25 November 2016|
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Good morning. Good morning to the Press Corps. We are fortunate to have here with us this morning two resource persons to talk about issues concerning their respective agencies.
First is Thomas Orbos, who started his career at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority in 2014 when he was appointed as assistant general manager for planning.
As assistant general manager for planning, he was in charge of the preparation of medium and long-term development plans, coordination and monitoring of programs and projects; formulation, adoption, and implementation of policies and standards to rationalize and optimize urban land use as well as provide direction to urban growth and expansion in Metro Manila.
With the change in administration, Mr. Orbos assumed the position of general manager in August this year and subsequently, he’s designated as officer-in-charge, OIC, of MMDA on the 5th of October 2016.
The other resource person that we have is the Bureau of Customs acting spokesperson for enforcement and intelligence operations, retired Col. Neil Anthony Estrella.
Colonel Estrella is a retired Marine officer who worked extensively in intelligence, public affairs and psychological operations department of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
He was formerly spokesperson of the AFP Western Command, covering the West Philippine Sea issues. He also joined Commissioner Faeldon after his recent retirement from military service.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps, let us all give first a welcome to Chair Orbos of the MMDA.
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: Thank you, sir. Thank you. Good morning to everyone, thank you for inviting us over. I guess the main issues surrounding the MMDA or where MMDA is now currently being involved in is really traffic.
And under the direction of the President, MMDA now is, has been made part of the group called Inter-agency Council on Traffic, which is under the supervision of Secretary Tugade.
And given that Christmas season is just around the corner, we have started looking at ways and means on how to decongest traffic. The projection is that there is an increase of about 30 percent traffic congestion everytime — during Christmas.
So we’ve done several – the thing is, the long-term solutions that we’re talking about and the long-term solutions given by this government will take some time, that’s why they’re long term, they’re probably two to three years, four years. The first ones we will feel sometime next year.
In the meantime, we at the MMDA, has been tasked by the Inter-agency Council on Traffic to try to look for ways and means to help decongest traffic in the short term.
And if I may be given the chance to mention among some of them which we have implemented for the past three months. Primarily, we have implemented the no-window hours along major roads. This is an addition to the current number coding that we had and this includes the major roads, such as EDSA, C5, Recto, Quirino Avenue, Araneta, C6, Roxas Boulevard, Taft Avenue, SLEX, Shaw Boulevard, Ortigas Avenue, Magsaysay, Aurora, Quezon Avenue, Commonwealth Avenue, A. Bonifacio, Rizal Avenue, Del Pan, Marcos Highway, MacArthur Highway, Alabang-Zapote Road, Samson Road, and A. Mabini Street.
What has happened is that since we started this, we have already tracked that the speed, especially in EDSA, has been shortened by at least 10 minutes.
So we started this about a month ago and despite the influx or the expected traffic congestion nearing Christmas, we have maintained the 10-minute up speed travel time. So this is between Monumento and Roxas Blvd.
We have also, aside from this, the way Secretary Tugade and I have discussed on trying to manage traffic is to look at all the stakeholders, the ones who use the roads.
And we have started making discussions, consultations with these stakeholders in the hope of reducing traffic congestion given their objectives of why they use the road.
Therefore, the things that we have accomplished so far, is that we have talked to mall owners and adjusted mall hours have been from 11 am to 11 pm starting November 1, 2016.
We have also asked them not to implement anymore any weekday sale, which we know, has been always the cause of traffic, especially on a Friday, on a payday, you would have malls having mall sales and these causes traffic.
For your information, there are about 15 malls, big malls in EDSA alone so we’ve talked to the mall owners, we’ve asked them if they can close, they can have their mall sales during weekdays. We have asked them, together with the delivery vans, delivery, the logistics industries, for them as well to deliver only at night and we have also asked them to give us their traffic plans and we have helped them manage traffic in their own areas.
So that’s number one, with the mall owners and the delivery truck owners. We have also made representations with the utility companies and even with the Department of Public Works and Highways to ask them to have a moratorium on road repair. This began November 1 to the midnight of and this will last up January 9.
It used to be that there was no such thing given when I was in MMDA 2 years ago, there was never a request or a requirement with the utility companies for them not to, or for them to suspend digging during Christmas and we made this possible beginning November 1.
We have also asked several government properties to open up their route roads and their routes to private vehicles. We have always heard being mentioned that government intends to open up private villages.
Secretary Tugade told me, rather than open up private villages, why don’t we look for public properties that we can open up? And this started already with Camp Aguinaldo.
We are looking at about six more, around six more public government properties to open up. Right now we have Camp Aguinaldo and this will ease the traffic coming from Katipunan, Marikina going to EDSA.
We have also negotiated for a similar military property in BGC connecting Lawton and Pasong Tamo extension, this is the Naval Station. There is also the Office of Transport Security in the airport area, which we will open up late next week. And there’s another small but very important road connecting EDSA to Jupiter Street. This is a barangay property which they have agreed to open up as well.
We are looking also at other areas. Just to name a few, there’s an MMDA property in Roxas Blvd. which might help, not just traffic but even decongest some of the sidewalk vendors that are now, that have been proliferating in Baclaran.
Several other more. We are looking at UP. We need to talk to the administration of UP, and I’m trying to access the old network of the National Power Corporation as well as the Philippine National Railways.
They have several properties in Metro Manila which we, if we open up, will help decongest traffic. [Aha, wait. Yes.]
In, total EDSA enforcers, we have increased to around 200. Right now we have 600 with around 6, with about 3 shifts everyday. We have an overcapacity of close to 20 percent in EDSA even with the no window scheme that we have.
We have also made representations with the motorcycle organizations for us to re-implement the motorcycle lanes and of which they have agreed, and in fact have cooperated well. We are enforcing the motorcycle lane, we are enforcing as well all the roadworthy requirements for motorcycles as well as road safety requirements, usage of helmets, etc, etc.
So it’s not just the traffic congestion we are looking at but safety as well of the riders, of the motorists.
If you notice as well, one truck lane policy has been re-implemented in C5 and Roxas Blvd. We have suspended all issued truck ban conduct passes, and there is a continued apprehension of illegally parked vehicles in all Mabuhay Lanes, in all arterial roads.
We are averaging around a hundred towed vehicles everyday and continuous operations of sidewalk clearing, we are averaging around 400 vendors that we take out every week.
Also, the no contact apprehension because as you can see, the only way for us to really apprehend, because of the lack of people on ground, our enforcers on ground, we maximize the usage of our CCTVs and we average around 10,000 a month. So basically, this is what we’re doing now.
Well of course, even the other stakeholders, we talked to them like the funeral industry, funeral parlor industry. We’re trying to talk to them and try to see how they can help because a slow procession would mean additional traffic.
In the same manner, we are reaching out to the driving – the way we try to handle our work right now, with me and Secretary Tugade is again, try to talk to stakeholders while we’re waiting for the long term solutions. Thank you. Thank you sir.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Thank you, Chair Orbos, General Manager Orbos. I would like to call on now retired Col. Neil Anthony Estrella and–
COL. ESTRELLA: Thank you, sir. Good morning, everyone. To give you an update on the Bureau of Customs activities, particularly on enforcement operations and also to give emphasis on some informations about the Bureau.
For the month of November, Bureau of Customs operatives have seized various counterfeit products in Pasay City, Bulacan and Pangasinan areas totaling to about 775 million pesos. Details are as follows:
On November 8 and 9, warehouses in Pasay City were raided by Customs operatives with 100 million worth of high-end counterfeit shoes, clothing items seized. No arrest was made as the warehouse owners were not in the premises when the raids were conducted. And as we speak, there is an ongoing howling of the confiscated items with the issuance of warrant of seizure and detention by the collector of Port of Manila.
Meanwhile, on November 18, hundreds of boxes of counterfeit branded cigarettes worth 500 million pesos and fake BIR tax stamps worth 175 million pesos were also confiscated in separate raids in warehouses in Bulacan and Pangasinan.
BOC authorities and local police arrested several Filipino workers in the warehouse in Marilao, Bulacan, and 24 Chinese alien workers without valid working permits in Villasis, Pangasinan. The alien workers were turned over to the Bureau of Immigration for further investigation and disposition. These raids were part of the follow-up operation that started two weeks ago in Davao City and Cagayan De Oro where BOC agents also seized 88 million worth of fake cigarettes.
On rice smuggling: the Bureau of Customs intercepted and alerted shipment on October 20. Thousands sacks of rice worth 20 million pesos at the Port of Manila. Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon expressed interest to exercise his option in donating these confiscated goods to DSWD for victims of natural calamities.
Commissioner Faeldon also maintains a tough stance against smuggling which deprives the Bureau of additional revenue collection. BOC will remain tough against smuggling. As we improve our maritime capability, we will pursue them in the farthest border of the country, the Commissioner said.
On the BOC war on drugs: The Bureau of Customs has so far confiscated around 1.173 billion worth of various kinds of illegal drugs in different operations, conducted from July to mid-November. Confiscated illegal drugs include 927 million worth of shabu, obtained 11 major operations, 17 million worth of ecstasy obtained in follow up operations and 227.7 million worth of cocaine obtained in eight operations.
BOC also obtained its biggest catching operation, together with the PNP anti-illegal drug group in July in Claveria, Cagayan where 180 plastic bags of shabu worth 900 million were also confiscated.
BOC also, with PNP-AIDG and Philippine Coast Guard seized last July in Subic, Zambales a Chinese fishing vessel found to be manufacturing and transporting illegal drugs to the country. Four Chinese nationals who were also considered high-value targets were arrested during that operation.
Also on the screen, you will see other illegal drugs like ecstasy and cocaine that were intercepted in our major airports, particularly in NAIA.
Those that were arrested are now in the custody of our authorities.
On revenue collection: The Bureau of Customs continues to enjoy an increased revenue collection with the Bureau’s collecting 33.365 billion for the month of October. This is a [unclear] of the target of 37.3 billion assessed target and is 39 million higher compared to the amount collected for the month of September.
Meanwhile, for the first 15 days only of November, the BOC has already reached 52 percent of its 36.495 billion assessed target.
The Bureau has so far collected 18.9 billion and is confident that the assessed collection target for November will be exceeded given these indicators.
On trade facilitation: Since July of 2016, Commissioner Faeldon has already hosted a series of talks and meetings to various stakeholders. This is all in connection with the drafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the newly-enacted Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
We had conducted a series of seminars and stakeholders’ meeting, one of which was yesterday at PICC.
BOC on balikbayan boxes: BOC has facilitated 2 public bidding on November 22, just recently, the release of around 400 balikbayan boxes that are overstaying at the MICP since March of 2016.
The winning bidder, Pherica International, heeded to the request of the Bureau of Customs that the boxes be released to their rightful recipients in time for the Christmas season.
The good news is Pherica International just gave us its yes that they will give these 400 balikbayan boxes for free.
Also, in a memorandum released on the same day, Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon reminded all district collectors to follow the Bureau’s policy on no opening of balikbayan boxes and to expedite the release and handling of these boxes.
The Commissioner highlights the importance of balikbayan boxes, which symbolizes the hardship of overseas Filipino workers and the love of Filipinos abroad to their families here in our country.
BOC on its personnel morale: Commissioner Faeldon recently announced his desire to give a mass promotion to hundreds of BOC employees and personnel by December of 2016. The rank and file employees covered by this mass promotion are those who haven’t been promoted for the past five years and those who have no pending cases.
This has been the first mass promotion, if ever, in the Bureau for the past 12 years. Commissioner Faeldon said this will help boost the morale of the Bureau’s personnel, promote their professionalism and encourage employees to avoid corrupt practices.
The [unclear] investigation on the death of Deputy Commissioner Atty. Art Lachica: Commissioner Faeldon instructed all departments to assist and exercise transparency in assisting the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine National Police, investigating teams on the case surrounding the death of Deputy Commissioner Arturo Lachica.
BOC has initially provided the authorities CCTV footages inside and within the immediate premises of the Bureau prior and during his untimely death.
The Bureau has also received a subpoena from the National Bureau of Investigation requesting for copies of cases that were handled by the late Deputy Commissioner as well as the appearance of certain individuals considered to be persons of interest to shed light on the case.
The Commissioner has also directed his enforcement and intelligence group to provide information that will expedite the investigation of law enforcement agencies.
That ends our briefing for the Bureau of Customs. We are now ready for your questions. Thank you.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Maricel Halili (TV 5): Hi Sir. Good morning. Sir may we have an update with regards to the proposal to have a 3 digit number coding scheme this Christmas season. May desisyon na po ba?
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: Yes, thank you. That proposal was actually a resolution passed by Congressman Suarez. And therefore since it is a resolution, I have to take it up with the Inter-Agency Council on Traffic and the Metro Manila Council of Mayors. This was yesterday. Unfortunately, the mayors did it best not to implement it yet. Given the fact that there’s such a short period of time and it might even cause confusion. The alternative then was for us to enforce our anti-illegal parking campaign as well as the strict implementation of the no window — no — closed door policy amongst buses in EDSA. So, as I said this was turned down by the mayors.
Ms. Halili: So definitely sir it won’t be implemented this Christmas season?
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: Yes, the agreement was for us to study it. Take a look at it’s a traffic impact. And then probably see if this can be implemented in the long term sometime January of next year. But as it is right now, it has been turned down even as it is, it may not be implemented even for next year.
Leila Salaverria (Philippine Daily Inquirer): Good morning sir. I just like to clarify. Has the MMDA totally shelved the plan to open up private villages to traffic?
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: No, Ma’am. For us, that’s going to be the last step. The first step is for us to look at public properties to open up which we are doing right now. The next simultaneous would be to look at roads, public roads that have been closed. Such as barangay roads, their gates. Some are — they put gates or obstructions. We understand their usage before given the fact that this was for peace and order objectives. But given our improved peace and order situation, having gates along these roads right now is not anymore necessary. So first, public properties such as the military camps and then public roads. Then if need be, we will take a look at the villages. But if I may also say, we have already done some consultations with the private villages and in fact, they are very cooperative if in case it will be necessary.
Hannah Sancho (Sonshine Radio): Sir follow-up lang po. Doon sa mga public roads po. Sa barangay na kino-close po. Kasi around Makati area sir especially sa Guadalupe marami pong gated na mga gates. Tapos pag may birthday, naglalagay ng tolda sa labas. Pag may patay, naglalagay din ng tolda. Hindi lang iyan sa Makati especially sa Manila sir. Paano po iyan sir? Kasi pwede din kasi siyang alternate routes sa mga private vehicles na gustong umiwas sa EDSA po.
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: Totoo po iyan. Salamat sa tanong ninyo. Kahapon po, kasama ng mga mayors, kausap po namin si Secretary Sueño, nag attend po siya ng Council. At iyan po ay isang hiningi namin na kung pwedeng tulungan niya kami sa mga barangay captain. Na kung saan po sila naman talaga ang nagbibigay daan na mapabilis yung pagtanggal ng mga — unang una mga illegally parked vehicles. Tulad ho ng sinabi ninyo, yung mga obstruction. Pwede naman ho eh. Huwag lang sa oras na kailangan natin. So ang pinaguusapan ho namin dito, mga oras na kung saan dapat wala ang obstruction. Ang hinihingi namin sa mga barangay captain ay tulong. At kung kailangan ho kung hindi ho sila tumulong kaagad humingi nap o klami ng tulong kay Secretary Sueño.
Ms. Sancho: [unclear] pwedeng magbigay ng ultimatum kundi DILG, yung mga barangay captains para maimplement po ito ng maayos?
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: Ma’am if I may, hindi po ito yung, we;’re not saying this is going to happen pero it was a – pag linis po ng mga esteros, meron po kaming agreement with the Ombudsman na kung saan po, nilinis namin yung isamng lugar tapos after a few months or a few – after a while, pwede na ho naming kasuhan when we bring up that matter to the Ombudsman. Ayaw na ho naming mangyari yun pero ang pinag usapan ho namin, ng Council, kung kailangan pa, gagawin po namin.
Ms. Sancho: Kasi sir, ningas kugon yun like tuwing tinatanggal natin yung mga illegal vendors, like yung sa Guadalupe area, after a few days babalik sila.
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: Totoo po yun.
Ms. Sancho: tapos po, sa gabi sir yung mga naglalakad po, yung mga commuters sir, nakikipag patinetero sila sa mga tricycle at jeep na dumadaan doon tapos hindi maka daan yung mga naglalakad doon sa area na dapat lakaran dahil may mga vendors.
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: I agree. Kaya ho malaking bagay yung paguugnay ngayon sa local governments. Ang una ho diyan yung agreement namin sa lahat ng mga mayors na tutulong na sila sa
Inter-agency Council ng traffic, kasama na ho sila sa aming enforcement at ito po’y pinatibay pa sa pagsama ho ng DILG para ho ‘yung barangay captain mismo tumulong sa amin.
Pia Ranada (Rappler): Sir, good afternoon, sir there have been observations that’ yung implementation of—‘yung mga coding are ineffective because people just ended buying more cars so that they can, you know, get away with the coding scheme. And people have also argued that it’s really the increasing number of car on the roads that are the reason for traffic in Metro Manila. So pwede bang doon sa Council po Inter-agency Committee on Traffic, is there any way for example, to introduce or to re-implement ‘yung road usage fee for car drivers and car owners looking at more—parang legal pay using the roads which is something which Singapore does for example?
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: It’s called congestion fee ma’am. Yes, were looking at that, in fact there is a—there have been several meetings between the inter-agency council on traffic and the Singaporean government to precisely take a look at such steps. But with regards to what you said, that it might increase such a—if I’m referring to the number coding scheme that it might increase purchase of vehicles, the ones that we’re implementing right now is just a three- -month scheme. So I don’t think it’s going to be a problem with regards to the output of buying more cars.
But having said that, yes, we do agree that we should take a look at the congestion tax or at the very least, carpooling and we’re doing the guidelines on that as we speak.
Ms. Ranada: Sir at this rate, do you know when the congestion tax might be imposed on people like a timeline within the term for example of the President?
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: Ma’am if I may, there are already seven sectors that, that use the road, that are already implementing this. I refer in particular to the tax that are going to and from the ports. They already have the wrong tagging system, which is in a way a congestion — it’s a queuing system which they need to pay. But thy are not paying the government, they are paying a private with — entity to manage the routes for them. So in a way, we’re doing that already and I was also informed that other sectors are looking at that. So—but if you looking at let’s say the use of EDSA, that will need consultations especially with the congressmen because I think they need to past a law. [unclear] the motor — the user’s tax which is the—what the road board is doing. To put another fee might need some legislation.
Ms. Ranada: So sir nothing definite yet on a congestion fee to be imposed upon private vehicle users?
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: No, not yet ma’am.
Ms. Ranada: Okay
Johnson Manabat (DZMM) : Sir good afternoon. Follow –up lang doon po sa naunang question kanina. Sabi po ninyo since meron na palang agreement ang MMDA with the Ombudsman. Meron na ho bang nakasuhan na, na LGU’s?
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: Meron na ho kaming finoward doon po sa ano po ‘ah, doon po sa estero clean up.
Mr. Manabat : Yes
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: Meron na po
Mr. Manabat: Ano po bang liabilities halimbawa kung hindi ho sila sumusunod doon sa agreement po ninyo? Doon sa paglilinis ng obstructions?
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: Well ho, Ombudsman na ho ‘yan. So they really have to face ‘yung, ‘yung charges ng Ombudsman. Ang ano nito ‘yung liability nila as a public servant handling that area so—hindi ko po masabi depende ho ‘yun sa, sa kaso na—depende ho kasi kung ano ‘yung mga gravity nung kanilang pagkakamali.
Mr. Manabat: They had the figures po ng mga nakasuhan na sa Ombudsman?
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: Wala pa, kasisimula lang ho namin nito. I think siguro mga tatlo palang ata.
Mr. Manabat: Anong city daw sir, meron po bang in particular what city or LGUs?
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: I think, siguro –mahirap ho sabihin kasi hindi ho city, barangay ‘eh. And if I refer–
Mr. Manabat: I mean, is it in Manila, Quezon city or Makati?
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: Hindi po, none of the three. I-ano ko nalang sa inyo mamaya. Kasi ang ano ho ko kasi diyan. We have yet to inform the mayor, that’s why I cannot still mention to you the barangay because may sensitivities din ho sa mayor ‘yan.
Mr. Manabat: Definitely meron?
MMDA CHAIRMAN ORBOS: Opo, definitely.
Ms. Ranada: Sir, just want to ask about the Deputy Commissioner Lachica, what have been the findings of the BOC with regards to the circumstances of his death? Are you looking, what possible motives does the BOC see in his death?
COL. ESTRELLA: Currently, we are cooperatng with the lead agencies, lead investigating agencies doing the investigation, particularly the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation. As far as the BOC is concerned, the Commissioner of the Bureau has directed the, as I’ve mentioned earlier, has directed both its intelligence and enforcement group to cooperate and assist these investigating teams.
So far yung, nabanggit ko po kanina, yun pong mga — meron po tayong natanggap na subpoena galing, particularly sa NBI, at dito po hinihiling nila ‘yung listahan ng cases that were handled by the late Deputy Commissioner.
Ms. Salaverria: Good afternoon, sir. Sir, where is, where are we now in the crafting of the Implementing Rules for the new law raising the tax exemption ceiling for balikbayan boxes? Can, wILL the balikbayan boxes sent in December enjoy this higher ceiling, higher tax exemption ceiling?
COL. ESTRELLA: Well, there has been a lot of Customs Memorandum that were issue last, just this month and yes, as far as the IRR is concerned, just yesterday, there’s another stakeholders’ forum that was conducted and presided by no less than the Commissioner of the Bureau, Commissioner Nick, Nicanor Faeldon.
And we’re now trying to consolidate all the inputs coming from the public as well as their individual, even minor concerns that we’re trying to consolidate so that when we start finalizing the IRR eh, nakakasigurado na po tayo na talagang ito po ay magiging enhanced na at makakatulong na po at makakagaan sa ating mga kababayan who is dealing with balikbayan boxes.
Ms. Salaverria: But, sir, do you have a target when you plan to release the IRR because without it, balikbayan boxes won’t enjoy the 150,000 tax exemption?
COL. ESTRELLA: Yes, the committee handling the IRR is planning to finish it by the end of the year, but siguro ang pinaka ano ‘yan is bigyan pa natin sila ng another one month kung hindi nila kakayanin, with all the holidays and mga posibleng mga magiging abala for this coming season, we’re safe to say that by early next year, we’re about to finalize the IRR.
Ms. Salaverria: Last na, sir, so, ‘yung mga balikbayan boxes sent next month will still be taxed kasi wala pa ‘yung ceiling? I mean til, as of now, 10,000 lang, sir, ‘yung exempted.
COL. ESTRELLA: Pending the IRR, kung ano ‘yung existing natin, ‘yun muna ang gamitin nating basehan.
Tina Mendez (Philippine Star): Sir, going back to, good afternoon, sir. Going back to the killing of Commissioner Lachica, I read from the newspapers that a certain businessman is giving a 1 million reward for the arrest of the killers.
COL. ESTRELLA: We don’t have that information as of now.
Ms. Mendez: Kasi, kasi, anyway, sir, I don’t know, I wanna ask how it should have affected your investigation kasi, and beides, this same businessman is giving a 1 million reward also for the arrest of the killers who killed the, regarding the BIR executive. I’m wondering meron ba silang, meron ba siyang interest regarding the deaths of this, the solution of these deaths?
COL. ESTRELLA: Okay. As I’ve mentioned, we don’t have any specific knowledge or information about that 1 million reward. But as we all know, ito pong pagbibigay ng mga pabuya para sa mga impormasyon leading to the arrest or leading in pinpointing the suspect is very helpful in any investigation, operation or law enforcement operation, but, sa ngayon, since we don’t have any information, we cannot comment on that.
But, later on, kung talagang magkakaroon po ng mga ganyang reward, we will welcome that just to, anything that will help fast-track the investigation as far as the killing of Deputy Commissioner Lachica is concerned, we will welcome that.
Rosalie Coz (UNTV): Good afternoon, sir, tanong lang po namin kung kino-consider po ba ng BOC ang mag-recommend si Presidente na i-re-establish ang COCAS o ‘yung Cabinet Oversight Committee Against Smuggling?
COL. ESTRELLA: Ah, we have to, that question I have to refer to the Commissioner and as well as his ExeCom. We will give you comment on that probably on our next appearance here, thank you.
Benjie Liwanag (DZBB): Good afternoon. Sir, number 1, ‘yung, nakakatanggap ba ng threats si Commissioner Faeldon because of what happened na rin dun sa Deputy Commissioner?
COL. ESTRELLA: Ah, none so far, as of the moment, wala po siyang…
Mr. Liwanag: May legal reforms that the Bureau of Customs is doing?
COL. ESTRELLA: Wala, wala po siyang nababanggit na threat na natatanggap siya but of course maraming, because of the technology of text messaging, alam naman po natin ‘yan, marami pong umiikot na impormasyon but our enforcement department is working on that.
Mr. Liwanag: Okay. Number 2, how’s the security right now at the Bureau of Customs especially maraming hao siao before o hanggang ngayon meron pa rin ba or something?
COL. ESTRELLA: Kung makakapasyal po kayo sa ating Bureau of Customs, isa po ‘yan sa unang pinatupad ng ating bagong Commissioner na malinis po ang ating premises ng Bureau sa mga tao po na hindi po authorized na mag-deal sa loob ng Bureau of Customs, at strictly po iniimplement natin dito na ‘yung mga organic personnel must wear their proper identification and even for those who are visitors are properly tagged, at dun po sa mga nagva-violate ay talagang, katulad ng binanggit ko sa inyo kanina, ang ating enforcement department ay naging mahigpit na po dyan.
Mr. Liwanag: There’s a parang kilala na kasi ‘yung Bureau of Customs especially on Fridays, na-tag kayo, are 3 o’clock or 5 o’clock habit, can you update us on this?
COL. ESTRELLA: Well ‘yun po ‘yung ating ano, isa sa ating kampanya na dapat nga ‘yung mga ganyang issues ay dapat pag-usapan natin. Thank you for that question. Isa po sa kampanya na ginagawa ng Bureau ay maging transparent po sa lahat. So we welcome those kind of at pinipilit po ng Bureau na mabura sa kaisipan ng ating mamamayan ‘yung sinasabi nilang Friday habit na kung tawagin nila.
Alam niyo po ‘yung sinasabing corruption issues sa Bureau of Customs ay lahat po’y inabutan natin at sinasabi nga na public knowledge.
Ang una pong hakbang na ginagawa natin diyan ay tanggapin po natin na there is a real issue at this is a real major concern ng ating Bureau. Ang sinasabi po ng ating Commissioner ay dapat po lahat tayong stakeholders ay kasama dito kung gusto natin ‘tong labanan at talagang alisin.
Hindi lang po ‘yung stakeholders sa loob ng Bureau, ‘yung mganagde-deal sa Bureau, kasama po dito ang ating public. So, again thank you for raising that question dahil isa po ‘yan sa kampanya namin.
Pag-usapan natin yung mga negative issues sa Bureau of Customs para po maipaliwanag sa taong bayan how do we convert this into positive and how we really eradicate corruption in the Bureau. Thank you.
Mr. Liwanag: So, what’s the answer?
COL. ESTRELLA: The answer is the Friday habit is tinatanggal natin at siguro nararamdaman niyo ngayon, katulad nga ng sinabi ko sa’yo kanina ‘yung mga hao siaos na non-organic personnel na dati nagkakalat diyan ‘pag Biyernes ay hindi niyo na ho makikita dyan tuwing Biernes ngayon. Wala na ho kayong makikitang ganun with all the CCTV cameras that were in place all around the Bureau’s premises.
Mr. Liwanag: Hindi ba sila lumipat ng Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday?
COL. ESTRELLA: Well, that’s always a possibility but as I’ve said, we are doing everything to eradicate that malpractice.
Mr. Liwanag: From the scale of 1 to 10, where is the Bureau of Customs right now, for reforms?
COL. ESTRELLA: As far as reforms is concerned, immediately for the past 3 months or up to 5, we are now working on 6 and 7.
Mr. Liwanag: What’s the hardest, ano ‘yung pinakamabigat na hamon na tinatanggap ngayon ng Bureau of Customs aside dun syempre alam natin number 1 is corruption, pero ano pa ‘yung ano, matigas pa ba ulo ng mga empleyado to that effect or something?
COL. ESTRELLA: As far as the employees are concerned, ang tingin po namin ay ang employees talaga ng Bureau of Customs ang, ang kasama po na dapat talagang, ‘dun sa ating reform agenda ay dapat po ang employees ng Bureau of Customs ang kasama nating bumabalangkas nito.
Hindi po ‘to kaya ng isang tao, hindi kaya ‘to ng isang team lang na papasok dun at mag-i-implement ng reform. The Commissioner now is working on motivating the employees, particularly those who have stayed in the Bureau of Customs for the past 20 years and more to help him in the reform agenda and policies na ini-implement niya po sa kasalukuyan.
Mr. Liwanag: Thank you very much, thank you.
COL. ESTRELLA: Thank you.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We’ll just open ourselves to 2 or 3 questions at most.
Ms. Mendez: Good afternoon, sir, welcome back, namiss kita. Anyway, sir, sir yung Black Friday protest ngayon, the President ordered all military units or personnel to stay or to be restricted sa mga camps nila. Is this some kind of a loyalty check for them not to join any public protest?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: That is exactly the opposite. I think he trusts, he trusts, he trusts the public to be able to handle themselves properly and he is allowing for them a democratic protest. Thank you.
Ms. Mendez: My question is, does he trust the military? Because he wanted them all inside the camps?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think that is reading too much. He is simply saying that the military should not be outside, not to stand in the way as obstacles to the public protesters.
Ms. Mendez: Because we know, sir, that the military component is, is necessary for any destabilization effort to succeed and the President has been saying all along that there are destabilization efforts against his administration.
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: Well as far as his statement is being said, it states clearly, it’s very clear that it’s simply, it’s for the — there’ll be no obstacles to the public demonstration. Thank you.
Reymund Tinaza (Bombo Radyo): Sir, good afternoon. Sir, what’s your assessment dun sa testifying of Ronnie Dayan yesterday? The President previously mentioned that Ronnie Dayan is a very vital witness, but with what happened yesterday that he is not so much really corroborating from the previous statements of Kerwin Espinosa because of some discrepancies with his testimonies. Do you still consider him as a vital witness to the alleged NBP illegal drugs trade?
PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: I think one of the Senators said that — to allow for certain discrepancies, but I believe he is still a vital witness to the whole illegal drug trade situation. Thank you.
In this case, thank you very much.
Mr. Tinaza: Sir, can I ask sa BOC? Tanong ko sana. Kasi naging problem previously is ‘yung, ‘yung mga umaarbor na mga executive officials, Congressman, Senators. At this juncture, wala na ba ‘yung tumatawag na ‘uy, kay Cong. ‘yan, kay Senador ‘yan, kay Secretary ‘yan?’
COL. ESTRELLA: Again, thank you for that question. Alam niyo po isa ‘yan sa malaking nagging pagbabago po dyan. ‘Yun pong mga employees ng BOC ang nagsabi, halos wala na ho talaga na nag-a-attempt na tumawag sa ating ahensiya maging sa ating mga leadership tungkol po dyan sa issues na ‘yan. So, we are happy and glad to announce that to the public. Thank you.