Macabando-Mimbalawang’s airport ‘sundo scam’ is worth P10B, could’ve been used for terror funding
Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Greco Belgica on Thursday revealed that the smuggling activities perpetrated by eight groups inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 could have been used to finance terrorist activities and insurgents.
“In our estimates, they raised P10 billion from their smuggling activities in an average used to finance terrorist activities. Probably, they have links, insurgents. The rest will be for further investigation of the PACC,” Belgica told reporters in a press conference held in Manila.
He said that they received “A1” information claiming that the couple, who were reportedly from Marawi City, was allegedly involved in raising money to finance the activities of the terrorist groups in the country, but this information has yet to be confirmed.
“The fund-raising activity was for illegal activities. They are part of a group that raises funds for certain groups. They could be terrorists, they could be insurgents,” Belgica said.
Belgica said that aside from the syndicate that aided spouses Abraham Mimbalawang and Bang-sa Mimbalawang in smuggling several pieces of jewelry, there were seven other syndicates who were operating separately but were using the same “sundo” modus.
The modus happens when the smugglers are met by a cohort at the airport who gets the contraband from them and facilitates their exit from the airport without having to pass through Customs examination.
They also learned that since year 2014, the couple traveled 133 times during the last four years, frequenting Dubai and Bangkok, Thailand.
The Mimbalawang couple, together with BOC Flight Supervisor Lomodot Macabando, were apprehended last May 5 at NAIA Terminal 3 for smuggling 1.9 kilograms of assorted pieces of gold jewelry worth more or less P6 million, according to Belgica.
Belgica said the Mimbalawang couple might have been engaged in illegal activities but this was the first time that they were apprehended.
The PACC official said that the spouses were the parents of the daughter-in-law of resigned Justice Assistant Secretary Moslemen Macarambon Sr.
Macarambon was tagged with the spouses’ alleged smuggling activities when he was accused by Malacanang of “regularly been intervening on behalf of suspected smugglers of gold and other precious jewelry at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.”
Macarambon reportedly denied the allegations saying that he intervened and explained that the couple was relatives of his daughter-in-law who were held by the BOC.
Macarambon said his daughter-in-law and her family were held by the BOC in December 2017 and told them to pay P6-million in taxes for the jewelry with an assessed value of P7 million.
He said he sought a request to recompute until the amount was reduced to P1.38 million.
PACC also said there were reportedly officials or employees from the four different agencies namely the DOJ, BOC, Department of Finance (DOF), and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) who were allegedly part of the “sundo” modus.
PACC Commissioner Manuelito Luna said these acts may be deemed as economic sabotage because they are depriving the government of collecting the correct duties and taxes.
Luna refused to give details of the fact-finding probe except to say it involved between P10 billion and P20 billion in public funds, and covers three government projects.
“A very big anomaly, so far the biggest and multi-billion anomaly which transpired not in this administration but during the Aquino administration. Tatlong klaseng projects ito, pinondohan ng (There are three kinds of projects which were funded) billions of pesos but there are ‘red flags,’” Luna told reporters at a news conference Thursday.
“Not covered by GAA (General Appropriations Act)… sad to say, maraming realignment [of public funds] sa previous [Aquino] administration,” he added.
The PACC was created by President Rodrigo Duterte in October 2017 through Executive Order No. 43 “to directly assist the President in investigating and/or hearing administrative cases primarily involving graft and corruption against all presidential appointees.”
It has the power, on complaint or motu proprio, and concurrently with the Office of the Ombudsman, to hear, investigate, receive, gather, and evaluate evidence, intelligence reports, and information in administrative cases against all presidential appointees under the executive department and any of its agencies or instrumentalities.
The PACC may, upon instruction of the president, conduct lifestyle checks and fact-finding inquiries over above-mentioned public officials and officers.
The commission is chaired by Dante Jimenez, who used to lead the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.(PNA)