WITH Christmas just around the corner, it is very comforting to know that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) people at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) are doubly vigilant especially when it comes to monitoring parcels arriving as misdeclared items.
This is so since along with the anticipated influx of passengers, one could only expect that unscrupulous individuals are likely to take advantage of the season by sneaking in prohibited items.
So far, the Customs-NAIA personnel headed by District Collector Edgardo Macabeo have proven that they will not allow these shenanigans go unchecked with the two seizures made only recently.
Early this month, some P28 million worth of US postal money was confiscated as it arrived via Federal Express. It was learned that Macabeo received a tipped information from French Customs authorities and based on that information, he tasked Customs intelligence officer Joel Pinawis to monitor until the parcel finally arrived.
Placed in two brown envelopes, the said postal money was consigned to two persons -- John Secada and David Matter -- with address at 30 Polaris St., Bel-Air Tower, Makati City. When inventoried, the parcel contained 600 pieces of postal money which were declared as mere letters and greeting cards. They were wrapped in carbon paper, apparently to make them less detectable by scanning machines.
Earlier on, alert Customs-NAIA personnel intercepted some P2.5 million worth of prohibited drugs that were declared as food supplement only. With Iqra Garments in Pakistan as the registered sender, the drugs were placed in two balikbayan boxes via Emirates Airlines flight EK-332 and were consigned to a certain Jasmen Tameyo with given address at City Gardens in Paraña-que.
Macabeo said they just let the cargo sit there in the hope that when someone comes forward to claim them, he or she can be arrested and a deeper investigation can proceed from there. However, after a considerable period of time passed and still no one surfaced to get the boxes, he decided to have the drugs confiscated already and subsequently turned over to the drug enforcement authorities for proper disposition.
With these recent developments, Macabeo and his men have made their message quite clear -- if you are planning to sneak prohibited items into the country, forget it. Attaboy!!!
Speaking of Customs-NAIA, also learned that they have been discouraged by Macabeo from greeting the passengers ‘Merry Christmas!’
This he made clear during a recent staff meeting where he particularly directed the message to those manning the passenger service both in the arrival and departure areas of the premier airport terminals. Without spoiling the Christmas spirit or Filipino tradition, the move is apparently aimed at averting the possibility of the greeting being misconstrued as a form of solicitation or being used for the same purpose.
He stressed that no greeting is needed if the Customs personnel provide the kind of service expected from them. This means that soliciting favors or material things --openly or discreetly -- is strictly prohibited and anyone found in violation of this will be dealt with accordingly. (I think I know someone who does this -- will just probably bare who later.)
Anyway, maybe Macabeo can just adopt a measure taken by one of his predecessors who also barred Customs personnel from extending Christmas greetings for the same reasons.
I could not recall whose time it was but I clearly remember there was a time when a digital Christmas greeting was placed in the Customs area for all passengers to see.
That way, the customary greeting was extended without any malice inferred on the part of Customs personnel.
HONRADO’S STANCE -- Ret. Gen. Jose Angel Honrado, general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), will be meeting with agencies operating at the airport to finalize the policy on this. In the meantime, he has left the decision to the agencies concerned although those under the MIAA were reminded that solicitation is prohibited.
He believes that the greeting, for it to be interpreted as a form of solicitation, would depend on the delivery -- the tone, facial expression and body language that go with it, among others.
Jokjok (from Arturo Cinco of San Antonio Village, Makati City) -- A lady with big breasts entered a bus. She has a rosary around her neck with the cross between her breasts. After 15 minutes, she talked to a man staring at it --Lady: Escuse me, are you looking at Jesus who died on the cross..?/ Man: “No! I’m looking at the two thieves beside him..”