The congressional inquiry on alleged smuggling of luxury cars in Cebu hanged like a Sword of Damocles over Customs Cebu people as they celebrated their Christmas party last December 19, 2007.
Heavy rains drenched the Customs building grounds right when the program began to heat up that evening adding to the cold chill that District Collector Boysie Belmonte described as "being frugal."
In past years, the Customs Christmas party is a time when importers and brokers personally flock to the customs building with their personeros brings loads of Christmas gifts.
Curiously, no broker nor importer showed up that night.
In my view, the volume of imports has not really met expectations — meaning much lesser collections for the government and "tara" for everybody.
Come to think of it, most imports in Cebu are vehicle replacement parts used for assembling multicabs and small trucks.
Multicabs are the small vehicles bought by many middle income Cebuanos and used by most Small-Medium Enterprises (SME) in Cebu.
However, the lobby of the Cebu Auto Dealers Assn. (CADA) and the congressional inquiry have led to the non-approval of certificate of payments of newly-assembled multicabs here in Cebu.
"Di na mahalin ang mga multicab in favor of the giants like Toyota and KIA," said one importer.
The controvery is far from over. With the second hearing sked still not set, we expect each side to the controversy relaxing a bit for the holidays.