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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, August 30, 2011
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INDUSTRY LEADERS SAY
‘We hope new BOC chief
acts on sugar smuggling’

BY CARLA GOMEZ

Sugar leaders yesterday said they hope President Benigno Aquino picks a new customs commissioner who will put a stop to sugar smuggling.

Aquino yesterday announced that he had picked a new customs chief to replace Angelito Alvarez but refused to say who the replacement would be.

The president would only say that the person he had chosen had accepted the job and that he had promised the incoming chief of the Bureau of Customs few days of quiet before releasing his name.

Speculations are that Muntinlupa City Rep. Rozanno Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon, Aquino’s Liberal Party mate, who lost in the 2010 senatorial race, will be appointed the new BOC chief.

The impending replacement of Alvarez drew mixed reactions from sugar industry leaders calling for government action against sugar smuggling.

Manuel Lamata, president of the United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines, said replacing Alvarez will not affect the sugar industry because “he was not doing anything.”

Enrique Rojas, National Federation of Sugarcane Planters president, said “Even way back last March when the President was in Bacolod, I asked him personally to change the Customs collectors in major ports identified as hot spots for smuggling because these are the same people who were behind smuggling during the previous administration.

“Hopefully, the President will appoint a new Customs chief who has leadership and guts and who is willing to help the sugar industry put a stop to smuggling,” he said.

Raymond Montinola, chairman of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations – Negros Panay Chapter, said “BOC commissioner Alvarez has greatly helped the sugar industry by his seizure of smuggled sugar and we thank him for that. Sadly he will not be around when the VCRC (Valuation and Classification Review Committee) decides government’s case against Coke’s missclassified and mis-declared premix imports.”

But Montilnola added that he believes the Aquino administration “is focused on a good and corruption free governance that is why we are confident of a decision favorable to the country and for the sugar industry.”

Ma. Regina Bautista Martin, Sugar Regulatory Administration head, said “I pray for the best for our country. Alvarez was helpful to the sugar industry, we had easy access to him. However, I regret, smuggling was not totally eradicated.”*CPG

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