'I am not a protector of agri-fishery smuggling' — Mayor Tiangco

Published June 29, 2022, 1:38 PM

by Aaron Homer Dioquino

Outgoing Navotas City Mayor Tobias “Toby” Tiangco on Wednesday, June 29 vehemently denied being a “protector” of agri-fishery products’ smuggling in the city.

Tiangco’s name was reportedly included in the list of personalities allegedly involved in the smuggling of agricultural products in the country which was earlier released by the Senate.

“Doon sa mismong Senate report, apat lang ang sinasabi na nafile na case ng DOJ (Department of Justice) na nagkaroon ng probable cause. Ibig sabihin, apat lang ang nasampa sa korte na kaso sa buong Pilipinas from 2016 to 2021. Ang pinakamahalaga doon, two of those cases were filed by the local government [Navotas](In the Senate report itself, there were only four cases said to have been filed by the DOJ that had probable cause. It means, only four cases were filed in court in the entire Philippines from 2016 to 2021. What is important is that two of those cases were filed by the local government [Navotas]),” Tiangco said in an interview with DZBB on Wednesday, June 29.

He said that his involvement in the case is unclear because he was first mentioned as a “protector” of the smuggling activities but the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) said he was only involved because he was mentioned in the hearing as the one who filed the cases.

“Ang dapat na ‘protector’ diyan ay yung hindi nagfa-file ng kaso (Those who should be called a ‘protector’ are those who did not file a case),” he added.

The mayor said he even wrote a letter to Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dollente Dar in September 2020 regarding the worsening illegal import of fishes in the city. However, he did not receive a reply from Dar.

“Noong panahon ni Secretary Pinol kasi nag-issue siya ng special order na hindi pwedeng iimport for processing yung apat na species which are galunggong, mackerel, moonfish, saka yung pusit. Hindi pupuwedeng iimport for institutional buyers (During the time of Secretary Pinol, he issued a special order that the four species which are galunggong, mackarel, moonfish, and squid cannot be imported for processing, cannot be imported for institutional buyers), the mayor said.

According to Tiangco, the cases of smuggling in the city dropped after former DA Secretary Emmanuel Pinol issued Special Order No. 1202 that prohibits the importation of the said fish products.

However, he said Dar issued Special Order No. 1077 that revoked Pinol’s Special Order No. 1202.

He said he urged the DA to revoke Special Order No. 1077 as the permits issued under the said order were being used by the illegal importers.

“Ang ginawa naman nila, after some time, di ko alam kung ilang buwan, ni-revoke naman. Pero secretly, without us knowing, binalik ulit (“What they did, after some time, I don’t know how many months, they revoked it. But secretly, without us knowing it, it was brought back),” he said.

He presented voluminous documents of the city’s investigations on the importation of the goods which they cannot file cases against due to the permits under the said special order presented to them.

“One thing I realized is that, itong sindikato, alam mo naman pag sindikato, kaya walang gustong gumalaw eh ang daming protection money para wag silang hulihin eh. Baka naman tinatrabaho ako kasi yung kinikita nila eh nababawasan na (One thing I realized is that, no one wants to take action since the syndicate has a lot of protection money. Maybe, they are working to destroy me because their income is already plummeting),” he said.