JAGS-CT, North Sulawesi trade to deter smuggling
GLAN, Sarangani (12 October) -- The start of direct shipping services between JAGS-CT and North Sulawesi would deter smuggling and may lead to free trade of locally-produced goods in the region, officials said.
"I'll be the one to see to it that there will be no smuggling with the help of the CIQS," Mayor Enrique Yap Jr. said.
Long before the opening of Glan-Tahuna-Bitung sea link Sunday, authorities had set up Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) services at the Port of Glan.
Yap said smuggling was known to be around the JAGS-CT area every now and then.
JAGS-CT is Jose Abad Santos-Glan-Sarangani Cooperation Triangle, a cluster of towns formed three years ago in support to the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA). Jose Abad Santos and Sarangani towns belong to Davao del Sur, while Glan is Sarangani province's oldest town and port.
"Siguro gikan karong adlawa, no more headaches for the mayor of Glan and other mayors about smuggling," said Yap at the inaugural voyage of M/L ALJAMAR to Indonesia Sunday.
"We will cut smuggling and we will make them legal so that we can have a control," Yap said.
Gen. Efren Abu, Philippine Senior Official for BIMP-EAGA, disclosed that efforts to deter smuggling were discussed with a "high-ranking minister from Jakarta" during the recent trade mission in Manado, Indonesia.
"We talked about free trade in certain parts of BIMP-EAGA, and he was amenable," Abu said. "So ang ibig sabihin noon, mawawala na talaga ang smuggling."
However, Abu cautioned that free trade should be studied carefully "because we don't want that some people will take advantage of this scheme."
"Napag-usapan nga naming we will consider locally-produced goods," he said. "Yong mga na-produce lang dito sa Mindanao o kaya sa Pilipinas ang pwede nating dalhin doon na walang tariff at hindi rin kasama ang uxury products."
Abu said the scheme has to be "fine-tuned" first.
Abu added he and Governor Migs Dominguez will recommend to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to include free trade in the discussions during the BIMP-EAGA Leaders Summit in December.
Governor Dominguez has been urging local officials and the business sector here to "look South into the global market."
"The dream eventually is to create a Subic Bay in SOCSARGEN (South Cotabato-Sarangani-General Santos City) in Glan," the governor told a news conference here after the September 21-25 trade mission to North Sulawesi.
He said General Santos would remain the commercial port "but tayo magiging free port."
Philippine and Indonesian officials have identified the Glan-Tahuna-Bitung shipping services to become the model project for CIQS "para masimulan ang free trade," Dominguez disclosed.
Part of the efforts in developing a free economic zone will lie in the discussions at the BIMP-EAGA Governors' Forum in Malaysia next month, he added.
The Port of Glan was declared a limited port of entry in January. The declaration followed the setting up of CIQS services at the port last December. The port also hosts a Philippine Navy detachment. (Sarangani IO/PIA 12) [top]