DAVAO City Councilor Nilo Abellera said former Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Port of Davao district collector Ronnie Silvestre maybe backed up by "somebody big."

This after Silvestre was transferred to another BOC office in the country just before high-grade cocaine was found in three container vans in the city.

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"Gi-transfer na siya kay naay taong nagpa-transfer sa iya. Tao na siya ni kuwan. (He was transferred because someone wanted him transferred. He's somebody's man.) But I won't say anymore kay hindi ko yan confirmed," Abellera said.

Other councilors also found it "fishy" that Silvestre was transferred to the Port of Cebu by an order from Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales, issued on December 3, 2009 and signed last December 8, 2009.

Silvestre was replaced by Anju Nereo Castigador as Port of Davao District Collector.

Abellera said Silvestre ignored his letter six months ago regarding the warning of Army's 10th Infantry Division Major General Reynaldo Mapagu.

Abellera said as that chair of the City Council committee on peace and order, he was furnished a copy of Mapagu's letter.

"I wrote to Attorney Ronnie Silvestre, and the BOC received my letter June 19. I mentioned the things mentioned by Mapago, that the Sasa Port may be a sleeping area for drugs. I tried to call him and requested for a conference but he never acceded to my request but very unfortunately Attorney Silvestre only copy furnished me of his letter to the Bureau of Customs dated June 19," Abellera said.

He said the committee on peace and order will conduct a public hearing which seeks the presence of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and the BOC (both Silvestre and Castigador will be invited).

Councilor Tomas Monteverde, member of Abellera's committee, in his privilege speech, raised his fear that a new kind of explosive in other countries, dubbed PTN, has become a hot item as it could go undetected since it is carried in small amounts but could create a huge explosion and damage.

Monteverde recalled December 9's cocaine bust at the Davao port where almost 16 kilos of high-grade cocaine valued at P112 million has been discovered. Monteverde then called Abellera to the podium to confirm that "the Bureau of Customs ignored their warnings."

"Whenever Davao City ships agricultural products fruits into other countries, the steel container is returned to its point of origin. This container we have are not reportedly x-rayed and this is in one of the containers where these kilos of cocaine were found," Monteverde said.

"There is a failure in their security forces. And despite our warnings, the request of the committee was not heeded. So I bring this out in the open and urge the BOC to upgrade its security," Monteverde said.

Meanwhile, Abellera said he will be meeting with Castigador to discuss the matter. (BOT)