CDO city prosecutor to resume probe of suspected vehicle smuggler

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/25 August)—The city prosecutor is set to resume the investigation of smuggling complaints filed against luxury vehicle collector Lynard Allan Bigcas now that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has settled the issue of who has jurisdiction over the case.

Under Department Order 658, dated August 11, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima appointed a three-man prosecution panel that will conduct investigation on the two cases filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI 10) against Bigcas.

City Prosecutor Fidel Macauyag said this will be his first time to handle a smuggling case since taking office in 2007. With him in the panel are senior assistant state prosecutor Edwin Dayog and assistant state prosecutor Agapito Fajardo.

The complaint is docketed at the DOJ as NPS nos. X-06-INV-11E-2314 and 11E-2315 for violating the Tariff and Customs Laws of the Philippines (RA 1937) and the Comprehensive Industrial Policy and Directions for Motor Vehicle Development Program (EO 156-series of 2002).

On May 23, the Bureau of Customs (BoC) filed a smuggling case against Bigcas at the city prosecutor’s office. But a few days later, the bureau wanted the case withdrawn on questions of jurisdiction, and it wanted the suspect indicted in Manila.

Macauyag denied the request saying only the Justice Secretary may order the transfer of a case to another prosecution panel.

De Lima’s order settled the question on jurisdiction with the creation of the local prosecution panel, he said.

“Now that the issue on jurisdiction is finally put to rest, we can now focus on the investigation,” Macauyag said.

He maintained that even when he was in Manila he did not know of any smuggling case filed by the customs office at the Mindanao International Container Port Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

“It is quite ironic that if not for the NBI and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), no smuggling-related case would have been filed here in Northern Mindanao,” he noted.

Before becoming city prosecutor, Macauyag was assigned at the DOJ central office in Manila where he was a member of its anti-smuggling task force. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)