Solon wants Mindanao Container Port investigated

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/17 May) — The inclusion of the name of the customs collector at the Mindanao Container Port (MCP) in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental in the “black book” of suspected vehicle smuggler Lynard Allan Bigcas prompted calls from Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez to investigate operations in the said port.

An inquiry by the House ways and means committee that started Monday revealed that the name of Atty. Noah Dimaporo, MCP customs collector, is listed in Bigcas’ black book along with those of some local government officials in Mindanao.

Bigcas is suspected of smuggling stolen luxury cars and motorcycles from the United States.

The black book was among the items seized in the raids last May 3 of Bigcas’ property in Talakag, Bukidnon and in Barangay Kauswagan here by local police and agents from the National Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Seized together with the black book were 21 high-end cars and four bikes one of which was reportedly stolen from Hollywood scriptwriter Skip Woods.

It was Rodriguez who first raised the black book issue in the committee hearing Monday.

“There may be gaping holes in the Mindanao Container Port, how come the name of Atty. Dimaporo was in the black book,” Rodriguez told MindaNews.

Marvin B. Mison, Bureau of Customs (BOC) Region 10 deputy customs collector meanwhile said that they are ready to have all the international ports in their jurisdiction undergo scrutiny.

The BOC-10 covers the MCP and the seaports in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan and Ozamiz.

Mison added the MCP does not cater to vessels coming directly from the US.

International vessels that dock at the MCP come from Singapore and Malaysia.

“There are many international ports in the country and if ever Bigcas is into smuggling, he could not have used the MCP and other ports in Northern Mindanao,” Mison said.

Dimaporo has been relieved from the MCP after his name surfaced in the black book. He is now replaced by Customs Collector Atty. Emerlito Aquino.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez said that he would also want to look into how balikbayan boxes and other packages from abroad are processed. This after Bigcas said that Woods’ U$80,000.00 Martin Brothers custom-made bike was shipped in a balikbayan box after it was broken up into parts.

Woods’ bike was stolen four years ago in Houston, Texas where Bigcas, a Filipino-American, has a freight forwarding business.

Bigcas’ claim that Woods’ bike was shipped through a balikbayan box departed from his earlier statement in a press conference last May 13 here that he acquired all his vehicles in the Philippines.

Mison said that if indeed it is true that Bigcas brought in the bike through a balibayan box, the courier should also be investigated.

“Even if it is chopped motorcycle parts, the items should have been properly entered in the bill of lading,” he said.

Aside from Atty. Dimaporo, the black book lists the names of “Mayor Dimaporo,” “Mayor Ali,” “Governor Jalosjos,” “Colonel Pimentel,” and a “Boy Plaza” as among the people who bought motorcycle parts from Bigcas. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)