Senator Joel Villanueva on Wednesday, June 28 said the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) should clarify the basis of their list of alleged smugglers and smuggling protectors.
‘’Their list is very raw. Where are the facts that support their report? How did they come up with this list? How did they validate the one-page bond paper matrix without any explanation? In fact, many people who have the same name in the list are reacting because the media is already hounding them,’’ Villanueva said.
A list of 22 persons was inserted last June 1 by outgoing Senate President Vicente Sotto III into the report of the Senate Committee of the Whole that investigated alleged smuggling operations throughout the country.
‘’It is said in the committee report that in the past five years, from 2016 to 2021, only four cases of smuggling filed in court have probable cause. Two of those four cases have Navotas City as the complainant. It is therefore difficult to imagine that the ones going after the smugglers are themselves in cahoots with the smugglers,’’ Villanueva said in a statement.
‘’It is not the intention of the committee report to file cases against the people mentioned in the list. The report recommended steps in finding solutions to the problem of widespread agricultural smuggling in the country. It is more important to focus our attention on the executive and legislative recommendations stated in the committee peport,’’ he pointed out.
‘’We believe in Mayor Toby’s pure intentions and strong commitment in fighting smuggling in Navotas. The accusation is unfair for him, and I personally believe that the ‘Toby Tiangco’ in the list is not the Mayor Toby Tiangco who fights against smugglers,’’ he added.