BUREAU of Customs (BOC) Port of Davao district collector Anju Nereo Castigador was nowhere in sight when six city councilors visited his office Monday morning.

Councilors Danilo Dayanghirang, Nilo Abellera, Leonardo Avila, Samuel Bangoy, Susabel Reta, and Pilar Braga were dismayed by the absence of Castigador in his office when they arrived at past 10 a.m. Monday.

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Abellera said this is not the first time that Castigador snubbed the City Council.

A few weeks back, Castigador and two of his colleagues also snubbed the committee hearing conducted by Abellera's committee on peace and public safety.

Inside Castigador's office, the councilors demanded that they speak with the BOC chief immediately. The district collector's aide then called him up on his mobile phone and passed the phone to Abellera.

In their conversation, Abellera explicitly told Castigador that the City Council wanted to determine if the questionable 40 container vans alleged to be containing misdeclared goods are still in the possession of the BOC and not released to its consignee.

Abellera told Castigador that they are not dictating on BOC what to do with the container vans but merely wanted to determine if there is any truth to reports on misdeclaration of goods.

Acquarius Container Yard (ACY) owner Rodolfo Reta earlier claimed that the 40 container vans contain sacks of rice. The declaration in the documents, however, showed that they are construction materials.

Photos provided to the councilors showed one of the 40 container vans indeed contained sacks of rice and not construction materials as declared.

The councilors asked Castigador over the phone if they could witness the inspection of the 40 container vans to see for themselves if they contain sacks of rice or construction materials.

Dayanghirang said Castigador promised them that the councilors would be invited once an inspection is conducted on the questioned container vans. The BOC official did not give a specific date on when the stripping will be.

Stripping would entail that container vans be manually opened and all its contents be checked by BOC personnel piece by piece.

What the councilors did during their visit to the BOC on Monday was inspect the mobile x-ray machine site inside the Sasa wharf. There, the councilors saw the alleged 40 container vans that are suspected of containing misdeclared goods.

The container vans arrived at the ACY yard last week and were subjected to x-ray examination. They were supposed to be subjected for stripping at the ACY's designated examination area but the BOC suddenly pulled them out of the ACY yard Sunday morning.

The pull-out was made after Reta accused BOC officials in the Port of Davao of connivance with importers in misdeclaring and smuggling of goods.

Documents provided by Reta to the media showed that several incidents in the recent past showed that several container vans were not fully stripped.

He said even though documents would show that there was 100 percent physical examination on container vans, what is actually happening is that BOC personnel just cut off the seal and does not open the vans and check its contents.

Reta showed documents where the declaration was tires but the x-ray image showed stack of sacks. He said the content of the container vans are actually sacks of rice and not tires as declared in the documents.

Reta also said there were several container vans that were declared as talcum powder but contained sacks of rice. (BOT)