LUXURY VEHICLES are not uncommon at the Bureau of Customs (BOC), where officials and employees like to drive fancy cars, even if most of them cannot explain how they bought these, given the salary scales at the BOC.
But assistant customs section chief Ildefonso Almero does not even have a car. Just five years away from retirement, he also does not own a house, but rents an apartment where he lives with his family.
MARIKINA CITY — As a young boy, Vic Sabiniano never had to worry about spending money even if his family was poor. If his pockets were empty, all he had to do was go to any neighborhood shoe factory in Marikina and offer to help — for a fee, of course.
WHEN NEW Customs Commissioner George Jereos appeared before a Senate committee hearing on smuggling last September, he made no mention of technical smuggling, which the agricultural and industry sectors say is fast killing them. Instead, Jereos talked about traditional or pure smuggling, in which imported goods do not pass through the Bureau of Customs and enter the country illegally via private ports.
BONGABON, NUEVA ECIJA — In 1987, Carlito and Lita Bayudan, both New People’s Army guerrillas, came down from the hills to begin a new life in this quiet farming town northeast of Manila. About to become parents for the first time, they traded their rifles for hoes, venturing into onion farming, the occupation of 80 percent of Bongabon residents. The young couple knew they would have to work hard, but they looked forward to a simple and peaceful life.