AFP verifying reports linking uniformed personnel to smuggle of ‘dirty money’

Published March 4, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Martin Sadongdong 

There are no active military personnel involved in the reported smuggling into the country of around $370 million (P18.78 billion) by two crime syndicates but raw information reaching officials indicate retired soldiers and cops may have acted as escorts to enable the entry of “dirty money,” the spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) bared on Wednesday.

Brigadier General Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, said this was the result of the initial investigation conducted by the military on the alleged smuggling of dirty foreign money by crime syndicates as reported by the Department of Finance (DOF) and Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Philippine Armed Forces Spokesperson Brig.Gen. Edgard Arevalo (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez / MANILA BULLETIN)
Philippine Armed Forces Spokesperson Brig.Gen. Edgard Arevalo
(AP Photo / Bullit Marquez / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Tumawag tayo sa DOF at BOC. Ang binabanggit nila, hindi nila categorically sinabi na miyembro ng AFP ‘yung sumasalubong sa sinasabing may dalang mga dolyar (We called the DOF and BOC. They did not categorically say that [active] members of the AFP were escorting the couriers who had the dollars),” Arevalo said at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum.

The military spokesperson said BOC and DOF are reviewing footages of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras they obtained to verify the identities of the escorts.

“But offhand, their raw information is itong mga sumasalubong na ito ay (these escorts are) retired members of the PNP [Philippine National Police] and AFP that are now under the [employment] of security agencies,” he explained.

Early this week, a DOF report quoted Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero as saying that “Chinese” and “Rodriguez” crime syndicates managed to sneak in some $370 million dollars.

The Chinese syndicate allegedly smuggled $167.97 million between December 2019 to January 2020 while Rodriguez brought theirs between July 2019 to January 2020, according to Guerrero, a former AFP Chief of Staff.

In the report, Guerrero was quoted saying that some travelers, acting as couriers, were bringing in the cash stuffed in luggages upon their arrival at the airports.

The couriers were reportedly being paid P12,000 to P50,000 per flight to facilitate the entry of the foreign currency.

According to Guerrero, the couriers were able to evade strict security protocols because they were being escorted by military, police and airport personnel.

However, Arevalo clarified that these claims have yet to be validated by the military as they conduct their own probe.

“Malinaw po ‘yan wala pong miyembro ng AFP na active (It is clear that no active AFP personnel [is involved].) Even retired [officers], it’s being verified,” he argued.

Should there be any personnel who will be proven involved in the smuggling of dirty money as their probe progresses, Arevalo said these officers will be punished by the current military leadership.

“They do not deserve a second [chance] in the armed forces. We will throw to them the weight of all our books, our regulations and the military justice system,” he warned.