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ROUGH CUTS | Is the container van x-ray facility working?

 

 

 

Vic N. Sumalinog

IN A Facebook post by fellow Mindanaoan journalist Allan Afdal Nawal yesterday we learned that Davaoeno Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go has expressed his full support for a Senate inquiry on the controversy generated by allegations that the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) is remiss on its responsibility as defined in its corporate charter. PITC is a government corporation tasked to procure the material needs of government agencies. It is under the umbrella of the Department of Trade and Industry.

One allegation is the delay in the procurement of material requirements even as the processes had long been started. Another, and which is considered very disadvantageous to the agencies that it serves is the “parking” of funds in billions of pesos in the PITC coffers even as the purchases have not materialized as scheduled.

According to Allan’s post Senator Go wanted the PITC to explain to the public through the Senate inquiry why the delay in its purchases of the requirements of some government agencies having been in the hands of the government corporation years ago. Allan’s post also says that Senator Go wanted the procurement agency to account every centavo that is in its hand as part of the funds from the different government departments entrusted to it.

The young senator who is now getting to be the most quoted and written in the media for his visibility and audibility, could not have been more correct in admonishing the PITC to revert the “parked” funds to the national treasury. Go says this is imperative at this point in time when the government is scrimping for money to buy the vaccines needed to stem the CoViD 19 infection in the country.

Of course, the Senate investigation is not yet certain when it will be conducted, or will it be done at all. We believe that such probe is not within the ambit of Go’s Senate Health committee. For certain the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has jurisdiction over the PITC issue.

Thus, we think it is incumbent upon Blue Ribbon chair Sen. Richard Gordon to call or initiate the probe.
But as per Allan’s Facebook post, the senator from Davao is all support for such Senate action. So, maybe it is high time Senator Go should egg out the solon from Olongapo to start the ball rolling.

Nonetheless, the clarification coming from DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, one government agency head whose name has not been dragged into any issue on corruption, may have fully convinced Gordon that there is nothing messy at the PITC. So, the Zamabeleno senator seems silent as a lamb despite the noise generated by the privileged speech by opposition senator Franklin Drilon on the alleged PITC shenanigans.

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This one is a noble project undertaken by the provincial government of Davao del Norte under Gov. Edwin Jubahib, in coordination with the Philippine National Police Regional Office XI.

We are referring to a housing project that is now rising in the uplands of remote Talaingod town in that northern Davao Province. The houses numbering 125 in all, are intended for the Lumads that were brought to the Haran Compound at Brokenshire College grounds by some non-government organizations claiming to be working for the protection of the indigenous people from the alleged abuses of soldiers in the hinterlands. The lumads have been quartered in Haran for years now and reports have it that many, if not all of them already wanted to go back home.

Ironically, some 116 policemen who are also men in uniform that the NGOs are claiming to have perpetuated abuses against the natives, are now out there offering their services to construct the returning natives’ houses.
We hope that this initiative by the local government of Davao del Norte, and the willingness of the policemen to take the risk of being harassed by the rebels in that remote area would have created an impression on the lumads on the sincerity of the government in looking after their welfare.

The project, we believe, would probably enlighten them when making their choice which side to believe in – the rebels’ importuning, or the government’s offer for a better and fear-free life. Let there be light in the minds of our lumad brothers.

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Here we are again. The incident years back in Davao City where some container vans unloaded in a private seaport were found to have a stash of several millions worth of cocaine happens again. This time in General Santos City.

A news report last Monday said that several container vans were unloaded in General Santos City by a boat coming from Singapore. The vans that were supposed to undergo some repairs, were discovered to have several bricks of cocaine hidden in some of its compartment. And its value is in millions of pesos.

According to the news report, the boat also dropped anchor in Davao City to unload some of the container vans. But the Philippine Drug Enforcement Board (PDEA) XI said it has not monitored of any cocaine contents getting out of the port.

What happened to the container x-ray facility at the local ports operated by the Bureau of Customs? Has the controversy with the Bureau and the owner of the property where the x-ray facility has been installed not yet been settled?

If such is the case, then we would not be surprised that as far as drug shipments from other countries are concerned, Davao can very well qualify as an “open city.”

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