THE Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) had not only outlived its usefulness, it had also outclassed other government agencies in notoriety.

The man entrusted by President Arroyo to curb smuggling, PASG head Bebot Villar, performed quite well at the start but he was soon swallowed by the whirlpool of corruption, which he was trying to fight. It would have been better if he maintained a manageable number of agents to do the task of PASG. But Villar spread his organization too thinly and made the mistake of assigning people to do his task.

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He should have been more careful in the conduct of investigation as PASG was already brought to court by an importer of expensive jewelries whom his men tagged as a smuggler.

In this country, the suspects come across to avoid harassments. But in the case of the jeweler, who must have enough proofs to show her importation was legitimate; she went to court to fight her case. In the end she triumphed and how triumphant she was indeed for the Court ruled that PASG is illegal in the irst place.

But even before that court ruling came out, PASG figured in another scandal when it raided the stores of warehouses of Filipino-Chinese businessmen identified with City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

On the pretext that they had information that the owners had smuggled goods in their premises, PASG swooped in on the establishments. Naturally they found nothing despite their desperate efforts to look for damning evidence. It's like looking for a needle in a haystack. The PASG team was led by ex-general Ed Martillano who is running for mayor in Puerto Princesa in Palawan. Why he is in Davao City conducting raids elicits suspicion.

Those raids did not only send bad signals to the business community and would-be investors, it was even worse than that because it turned out that Martillano, according to Mayor Duterte was not even with PASG.

The damage has been done not only to the healthy business climate in Davao City but also to the PASG.

In a way, it serves them right and it is poetic justice that the Court of Appeals ruled that PASG should not have been there in the first place. Rightly therefore PASG has to go into that good night. Good riddance.

The presence of General Martillano in those illegal raids does not augur well for his mayoral bid in Palawan. I am sure that his adversaries will use this scandal against him. While I do not question his right of free movement I also wonder why he loves it here in Davao City. Has he not heard from his fellow ex-general Jovito Palparan that Davao City is swarming with criminal and communist elements? Palparan and his sidekick Pastor Alcover are also here obviously enjoying the comfort of peace and security, which they repeatedly say is absent in the city.