Rep. Rodriguez assures no whitewash in probe on smuggling in R-10

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/24 May) — A lawmaker assured there will be no whitewash in the ongoing probe on the alleged smuggling operations in Northern Mindanao.

“No whitewash. (We) will require the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to conduct thorough investigation on (Bureau of) Customs and LTO (Land Transportation) officials involved in the smuggling,” Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said Tuesday.

“We will ask Custom officials to check the continuing entry of imported vehicles in our ports here in the city as well as Misamis Oriental,” Rodriguez said.

He also said that he has information from reliable sources that many vehicles smuggled into the city were either not properly levied or did not pay import duties.

The congressman’s statement implied that the alleged smuggling operations in the region goes beyond embattled businessman Lynard Allan Bigcas and that he may just be a pawn of a big syndicate.

Bigcas became controversial after police and agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Region 10 seized on May 3 several allegedly undocumented high-end cars and motorbikes from his properties in Talakag, Bukidnon and Barangay Kauswagan here.

City councilor Roger Abaday had called the operations Bigcas’ was involved in a “transnational crime.”

A Customs official here has reportedly been placed on “floating status” after he was implicated in the alleged smuggling operations of Bigcas.

Lawyer Noah Dimaporo’s name appeared in the diary seized by NBI 10 in the twin raids of Bigcas’ residences.

For their part, both the city and regional offices of the Philippines National Police expressed support to Rodriguez’ request to dig deeper into the Bigcas issue.

City police director Senior Supt. Gerardo Rosales said Tuesday they are willing to assist the NBI in probing the BoC and LTO.

“Yes, we are willing to assist whatever agency needs our assistance,” Gerardo said via SMS.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Regional Intelligence and Investigation Division (RIID 10) chief Noel Armilla also said they will help especially in gathering intelligence for NBI 10’s probe.

“We welcome this development and we will support the NBI, it being the lead agency in this case, by helping out in the information gathering,” said Armilla.

“Automatic ‘yan, we will help NBI cover all the bases,” he said. (Cong B. Corrales/MindaNews)