BBM has list of gov't execs, traders involved in alleged P667-M agri smuggling—Sotto

Top officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) are in the list of suspected smugglers or protectors of smuggling of agri-fishery products worth P667.5-million from 2019 to 2022.

The list was submitted to President-elect Ferdinand ‘’Bongbong’’ R. Marcos Jr. by outgoing Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III supposedly when they met at the Marcos campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong city last May 28.

The Senate Chief said he expects the incoming President to act on the list as he (Marcos) has announced his decision to temporarily act as DA secretary.

The Sotto list was based on a report of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) submitted during a public hearing by the Senate Committee of the Whole.

The committee report on the nationwide smuggling activities was submitted by Sotto to the Senate in mid-May while the list of 22 persons was inserted by Sotto into the committee report last June 1, the day the Senate adjourned sine die.

Seventeen (17) senators signed the said committee report, a draft of which was given to reporters.

BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero heads the ‘’validated’’ list in the intelligence report.

Others are DA Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan, BOC Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Raniel Ramiro, BOC Deputy Commissioner Vener Baquiran of Customs Revenue Collection Monitoring Group, Director Geofrey Tacio of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), lawyer Yasser Abbas of Customs Import and Assessment.

Included in the list are Bureau of Plant (BPI) Industry Director George Culaste; Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Eduardo Gongona; and Laarni Roxas of the BPI Plant Quarantine Services Division.

Also listed are the names of Toby Tiangco, tagged as smuggling protector of ‘’BFAR products’’; Mayor Jun Diamante who allegedly had a hand in agricultural product smuggling in the ports of Davao, Cagayan de Pro, Cebu and Subic; and Gerry Teves who operates in major ports.

Likewise, other names were in the list.

They are David Tan, alias David Bangayan; Manuel Tan; Jude Logarta pf Cebu; Leah Cruz, alias Luz Cruz and alias Lilia Matabang Cruz who is described as ‘’Onion Queen’’; Andy Chua; George Tan; David Bangayan; Paul Teves; Tommy Go and Wilson Chua.

The committee report submitted by Sotto last June 1 had no details on the alleged participation of the DA and BOC officials, much less their answer or explanation.