The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) maintained that they may continue to operate on secondhand clothes or ukay-ukay suppliers selling imported goods, even without the endorsement of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Despite this explanation, the City Council asked the CIDG on Monday to guarantee the legality of its ukay-ukay raids through an adopted resolution, citing the plight of retailers losing their suppliers..
While they are aware that they must obtain prior approval from the BOC, CIDG Palawan chief P/Maj. Richard John Macachor, who was invited to the City Council’s question hour, clarified that this is not always the case and that they usually coordinate with the customs bureau depending on the type of case to file in court.
“There were some operations that were carried out with the BOC, and there were also those that were carried out without coordination with the BOC. Ang BOC ang nagsabi, if we are to charge them [ukay-ukay suppliers] with the Customs and Tarrif Law, we need coordination,”said Macachor.
Grace Fontanilla-Estrada, BOC Palawan representative, said that in an ideal world, products in Palawan would no longer need to be inspected if they had been approved by their counterpart in Metro Manila. Law enforcement personnel may still confiscate imported items if they believe they were brought into the country unlawfully.
“Ang presumption kasi nakadaan na ang goods sa BOC sa Manila, meaning all taxes and fees have been paid. Pero, kung mayroon pa rin kasing suspicion [sa legality ng goods], puwede pa rin habulin ang mga importers,” said Estrada.
Initially, City Councilors were split on whether or not to adopt a resolution urging the CIDG to exercise caution before conducting raids. Councilor Roy Ventura argued that since the CIDG is a national law enforcement body, the Council cannot compel it to heed its appeal.
“Sa mga ukay-ukay sellers, kung sa tingin ninyo, nasa tama kayo, ipaglaban ninyo. Kaya nga may korte tayo. At ‘yong sa na-raid, nasa korte na ‘yan. Kung nasa tama kayo, papanigan kayo ng batas. Magtulungan tayo, huwag nating diktahan ang ating pulis na huwag gawin ang kanilang tungkulin,” said Ventura, referring to the operation done in late August on a warehous in Barangay San Jose.
Other councilors who objected to passing the resolution were Francisco Gabuco, Jimmy Carbonell, and Johnmart Salunday.
Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Councilor Myka Magbanua moved to refer the resolution to the proper committee so it will not conflict with the existing law that prohibits the importation of ukay-ukay.
“In the very first place, wala dapat tayong ukay-ukay dito. Yes, it is not prohibited to sell these items, but if we are to consider prudence about this issue, bawal talaga. It’s an eye-opener na dapat ayusin na ito [sa batas]. Kasi parang may kasalanan pa ang local government for issuing licenses for ukay-ukay,” said Magbanua.
After lengthy deliberation, a total of eight councilors – main proponent Elgin Damasco, Dilig, Henry Gadiano, Patrick Hagedorn, Nesario Awat, Victor Oliveros, Matthew Mendoza, and Peter “Jimbo” Maristela – voted to pass the resolution. Damasco, who also called for the question hour, stated that it was to express their support for small retailers affected by the CIDG crackdown.