DAVAO City Council expressed grave disappointment after Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials snubbed the first hearing on the discovery of about 16 kilos of high-grade cocaine inside Sasa Wharf last year.

Committee on peace and public safety chair Councilor Nilo Abellera, along with Councilors Tomas Monteverde, Susabel Reta and Bangoy, said they will not allow the BOC to snub the City Government on matters concerning the safety and security of the people of Davao.

Abellera said he will call up BOC Port of Davao district collector Anju Nerio Castigador to know when they could attend the committee hearing.

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In a letter to the City Council dated February 11, Castigador said they have to seek approval first from their superiors in the national office if they would be allowed to attend the hearing.

"It is informed that when the controversial cocaine was discovered at the reefer vans in Maersk Line Container Yard and became a national issue, we have been regularly updating the Commissioner of Customs as a matter of protocol and for our guidance," Castigador said in his letter to the said committee.

"While the Port of Davao has the highest esteem for the City Council and to its distinguished members, we would nonetheless defer our action on what would be the instruction of the Commissioner of Customs and/or the policy guidelines that will be issued on the matter," the BOC district collector added.

Abellera said for the time being, they will give the benefit of the doubt to the BOC officials for their failure to attend the hearing.

He warned though that if BOC continue to snub their invitation, then the City Council will also make its own move.

When asked what their possible actions are, Abellera said he will first consult with their lawyers regarding the best legal move to do.

Reta, meanwhile, challenged the City Council committee to which she is a member to take immediate action on the BOC decision to ignore the council.

Abellera advised his colleagues to cool down as it is but common for subordinates to be asking permission from their superiors regarding matters that concern them and their office.

Many other officials invited in the said hearing, however, appeared before the council.

Sasa Police Chief Superintendent Alden Delvo told the committee that he personally saw how the x-ray machine detected the contraband placed inside the reefer machine.

He said no less than the BOC showed to him how effective the x-ray machine is in detecting contrabands.

Delvo said the BOC, however, failed to implement the mandatory x-ray on empty container vans due to high cost on the part of the shipping companies.

At present, BOC's procedure on the monitoring of empty container vans is having the containers vans half-opened so that BOC personnel could check the inside of the containers.

"The BOC procedure is very faulty," Delvo opined.

Bangoy seconded the police official's opinion, saying if BOC personnel will check the empty container vans by merely peeping outside the half-opened vans, then there is still a big possibility that inside it are contrabands hidden by way of a "false wall."

"Just like in the movies, contrabands are hidden by way of a false wall," Bangoy said. (BOT)