PACC links airport jewelry smugglers to terrorist organizations

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Travelers line up at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1. -- BW FILE PHOTO

The Philippine Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) is currently investigating a link between two alleged jewelry smugglers operating in Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and terrorist funding efforts.

According to PACC Commissioner Greco B. Belgica, two people, identified as the “Mimbalawang” couple, were apprehended in a joint-operation between the PACC and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for allegedly smuggling 1.9 kilograms of gold jewelry, worth roughly P6 million. The two are believed to be part of an organized crime syndicate composed of eight independent groups of jewelry smugglers at the airport.

Mr. Belgica also pointed out the pair were frequent flyers, with 133 flights taken between 2014 and 2017.

“In our estimates, they raised P10 billion from their smuggling activities in an average used to finance terrorist activities,” said Mr. Belgica.

“Probably, they have links, insurgents… The rest will be for further investigation of the PACC,” he said.

The PACC explained that the smugglers would have government officials sneak undeclared jewelry past customs officials and if caught, would convince agents to lower tax assessments. — Dane Angelo Enerio