THE controversial Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG) has practically been shut down after the Office of the President left the agency with no funds for 2011.
“The budget of PASG is zero,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at the sidelines of the Congressional budget hearing last week. “It is also not clear if this is going to be the same thing for 2012. With a zero budget, how can you operate? It’s still there but only in name.”
This development was welcomed by industry stakeholders. The Bureau of Customs (BOC), for one, had long wanted PASG abolished, claiming it duplicated work of the bureau.
Truckers are just as happy since they have repeatedly complained of abuses by PASG staff during random apprehension of trucks.
Earlier, a Manila Court ruled the executive order that created PASG in 2007 was unconstitutional since the agency’s functions overlapped with other government institutions such as the BOC.
PASG operated under the Office of the President during the Arroyo administration. It is one of 10 agencies created under the Office of the President recommended for dissolution by the Aquino administration due to redundancy. The others are the Mindanao Development Council, Office of the North Luzon Quadrangle Area, Office of External Affairs, Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, Minerals Development Council, Luzon Urban Beltway Super Region, Bicol River Basin Watershed Management Project, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Global Warming and Climate Change, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on New Government Centers.