MALACAÑANG will not easily give up the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) following a Manila court ruling that declared it as unconstitutional and illegal.

Chief Presidential spokesperson Ricardo Saludo on Wednesday said they are expecting for the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to file a motion for reconsideration.

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Saludo said if the motion for reconsideration will not be granted, appealing to the Court of Appeals (CA) and up to the Supreme Court (SC) could still be an option.

The Palace official said the ruling of the Manila Regional Trial Court against Executive Order 624 creating PASG is not yet final and executory until the SC decides.

“We in the government, whatever ruling of the Supreme Court which final and executor, we will follow. But we think this is not yet final and executory,” he said.

With this, PASG will continue with their functions to apprehend, seize, investigate, and prosecute acts involving smuggling, unlawful importation and other similar violations and providing measures to curtail smuggling and expedite seizure proceedings.

Judge Silvino Pampilo of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 26 granted the petition filed by Chinese-born British national Siu Ting Alpha Kwok, represented by lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan, to declare EO 624 as unconstitutional citing that PASG only duplicated the function of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

For Saludo, the role of PASG and the BOC are not the same. “Customs duty is extensive, not just anti-smuggling,” he said.

He argued that the Philippines has coastline, which is twice the length of the coastline of the United States and it is not unwarranted to create an agency to help in the fight of smuggling.

He said the abolition of PASG would be a loss to the government.

“They should find another way to curb smuggling if they want to scrap PASG,” Saludo said, adding that PASG is imperative to protect local jewelry businesses citing the case of Kwok.

He furthered that the Malacañang still stand by the accomplishment of the agency.

“On the whole, you yourselves media have written a number of raids. In fact, this case was raised by alleged smuggler of jewelry. We have a jewelry industry in the Philippines. Jewelry of course is heavily taxed as a luxury, now if in fact the jewelry were smuggled, not only have you avoided heavy taxes on luxury goods that should be used for the poor, but you have also brought in goods that will compete our jewelry makers in Bulacan, Cebu,” Saludo said. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)