, January 11, 2005
(STAR) By Marichu Villanueva  -  President Arroyo has abolished the Anti-Smuggling Intelligence and Investigation Center (ASIIC), which she created in 2002, so there will be only one Anti-Smuggling Task Force in charge of the governmentís drive against smuggling.

The abolition of the ASIIC came a few months after the President put the campaign against smuggling back in the hands of Secretary Angelo Reyes of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The President issued Executive Order 393 dated Dec. 28, 2004 abolishing the ASIIC. The STAR obtained a copy of the EO yesterday.

The ASIIC was formed under EO 155, which she issued on Dec. 11, 2002. It was tasked with investigating and interdicting "smuggling and other acts contrary to the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines committed on a large scale or by criminal syndicates."

"It is this administrationís policy to streamline the government bureaucracy in order to promote economy and efficiency in the government to enable it to pursue programs related to the national goal of accelerated socio-economic development," the President said as justification of her abolition of the ASIIC.

Under EO 393, all personnel seconded to the ASIIC were returned to their mother units and ASIICís assets were transferred to the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission. Both the defunct ASIIC and the PAOCC were attached to the Office of the President.

Reyes told The STAR that the abolition of the ASIIC does not affect his newly revived Anti-Smuggling Task Force, which was reorganized when the President issued EO 297 on March 10, 2003. EO 297 was amended by EO 385.

Under EO 297, the President created the National-Anti-Smuggling Task Force (NASTAF) and designated Reyes as presidential adviser against smuggling.

When former Customs commissioner Antonio Bernardo resigned and was replaced last year, the President ordered the NASTAF to "stand down" for two months to enable newly appointed Customs Commissioner George Jereos to prove he can do his job against big-time smugglers.

However, because of the clamor from the business sector for sustained anti-smuggling operations, the President issued EO 385 on Nov. 15, 2004 to reactivate the NASTAF and transferred control over the reactivated agency to Reyes.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved