Customs seized P9.75B worth of smuggled goods in 2020

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2021   •   1783

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has confiscated an estimated P9.746 billion-worth of smuggled goods in 2020, the Department of Finance (DOF) said on Tuesday.

Citing a report submitted by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the DOF said the Customs bureau seized smuggled cigarettes and other tobacco products in 150 out of 792 operations it conducted in the country’s ports last year.

“For the anti-smuggling effort of the BOC, the consolidated estimated value of seized shipments last year is P9.746 billion, of which P5.217 billion are from seizures of cigarettes and tobacco, P1.85 billion are from drugs seizure and P1.02 billion from counterfeit items,” Guerrero told Dominguez during a recent Executive Committee meeting.

The confiscated tobacco products made up 53.5 percent of the total amount of goods seized by the BOC during this period, Guerrero said.

Aside from tobacco products and illegal drugs, the BOC also seized P32.59 million-worth of various types of currencies from January to December 2020.

General merchandise worth P403.89 million, vehicles and automobile accessories valued at P354.53 million, and agricultural products amounting to about P207.7 million were also apprehended by the BOC, Guerrero said.

The BOC also seized personal protective equipment (PPEs), medical supplies and cosmetics worth P195.57 million; jewelry and other products, P69 million; foodstuff, P212 million; used clothing, P130.59 million; electronics goods, P31.07 million; steel products, P4.76 million; alcoholic beverages, P2.43 million; chemicals, P5 million; and firearms, P300,000.

From Jan. 1 to Dec. 28 last year, Guerrero said the BOC filed 74 criminal complaints before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against 268 respondents suspected of smuggling, and another 52 administrative cases before the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

As of Dec. 4, 2020, the BOC also ordered the closure of 20 customs-bonded warehouses (CBWs) and 40 members of customs common bonded warehouses (CCBWs) for various violations, Guerrero said.

“In 2020, the BOC already completed the inspection and investigation of a total of 150 Customs Bonded Warehouses and 247 Members of CCBWs,” Guerrero said.

Dominguez previously ordered the BOC and Bureau of Internal Revenue to intensify their respective operations against smugglers and tax evaders despite the mobility restrictions triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Parcels containing ecstasy pills seized in Pasay

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – Five packages containing a total of 1,115 ecstasy tablets and 26.4 grams of Ketamine with an aggregate value of P2,027,800 were seized at Central Mail Exchange Center in Pasay City, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said Friday.

In a statement, the BOC said the parcels were confiscated in an operation conducted with elements from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (NAIA-IADTG).

The bureau said the illegal drugs were sent as mail parcels from the Netherlands and Germany bearing no shipper details and consigned to individuals from Caloocan, Mandaluyong, Bulacan, and Davao.

The parcels were initially tagged suspicious by the X-ray Inspection Project (XIP NAIA) personnel and were later found to contain tablets in different colors and a white crystalline substance during a physical examination.

“Qualitative chemical laboratory test conducted by PDEA confirmed that the seized tablets are ecstasy, while the white substance is ketamine,” the BOC said.

The seized party drugs and ketamine were turned over to PDEA for case build-up and institution of criminal charges against the persons behind the illegal importation, the bureau said.

The BOC said those behind the importation may face raps for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act (Republic Act 9165) in relation to Section 1401 (Unlawful Importation) of the Republic Act 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

BOC data show that attempts of smuggling ecstasy in NAIA increased from 14 parcels seized in 2020 to 23 parcels seized in 2021 or a 60% percent increase in data of interception.

P150 million worth of fake COVID test kits, meds seized in Manila warehouse – BOC

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2022

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Monday said it has confiscated P150 million worth of fake COVID-19 antigen test kits, face masks, medicines and other goods from a Manila warehouse.

In a statement, the BOC said authorities raided the warehouse in San Miguel last Friday, January 21, pursuant to a letter of authority with mission order signed by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, in coordination with local barangay officials and police.

The bureau said the storage facility was found with thousands of Clungene COVID-19 antigen test kits, counterfeit LianHua Chinese herbal medicines, and fake 3M N95 face masks.

Authorities also found intellectual property rights infringed goods such as apparel from brands like Nike, Fila, Converse, Adidas, as well as Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags, wallets, phone accessories, and others.

The BOC said a Chinese national, who is said to be the owner of the warehouse, was arrested during the operation.

He will face various cases for violating the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) Law and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules and regulations, it added.

“Definitely the owner of the warehouse will face the brunt of the law. This is not the first time and not the last time we will see these groups operating on our shores,” said Customs Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Raniel Ramiro.

“Our job here is to make sure these don’t get into the local markets, and to stop any future attempts at selling counterfeit goods to our kababayans,” he added.

The BOC said the warehouse was temporarily padlocked and to secure the imported products stored inside until the completion of the inventory of goods.

 

P30 million worth of fake flu meds seized in warehouses in Parañaque – BOC

Robie de Guzman   •   January 12, 2022

Counterfeit of popular medicine brands worth at least P30 million were confiscated at two storage areas in Parañaque City, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.

In a statement, the BOC said an operation launched on January 5, 2022 yielded the seizure of counterfeit medicines such as Biogesic, Neozep, Bioflu, Immunpro, Ivermectin, Phenokinon F Injection, Medicol, Planax, Alaxan FR, MX3 and others.

Customs said that certification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Unilab Pharmaceuticals, the makers of paracetamol brand Biogesic, stated that the said medicines were counterfeit.

The operation was conducted by the BOC with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Intelligence Service Armed Forces Of the Philippines (ISAFP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

“We received reports about the presence of counterfeit items. It’s not just items, but medicines. We acted on this immediately because this can pose a health threat. They are selling these to unsuspecting people whose only hope is to buy authentic medicines for themselves and their loved ones,” said Raniel Ramiro, Customs Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence Group.

The BOC said the counterfeit medicines were packed in cartons with tags bearing foreign characters. They were found in two storages at 7434B and 7434C Highland St., Marcelo Green Village and 27 Pearl St., Severina Subdivision, Km 18, Brgy. Marcelo, both in Paranaque City.

The seized items were immediately hauled to the BOC premises, though the inspection and inventory are still ongoing.

The team, composed of members of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service at the Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP), PDEA-IIS, NICA, ISAFP and the PCG, nabbed the suspect identified as Adel Rajput, a 31-year old Pakistani national, a resident of Caloocan City.

The BOC said the suspect was brought to the Paranaque City Prosecutors’ Office for an inquest.

He will face various cases for violation of Sec. 1401 (Unlawful Importation/Exportation), Sec. 1113 (Property Subject to Seizure and Forfeiture) paragraph (l) (5) in relation to Sec. 118 (Prohibited Importation and Exportation) paragraph (e) of the CMTA, and the violation of Republic Act No. 8293 (Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines and its Pertinent Rules and Regulations).

“His visa will be under a revocation process by the Bureau of Immigration,” Customs said.

Last November 24, 2021, BOC said it also confiscated fake medicines bearing names of popular brands such as Alaxan, Tuseran Forte, Propan, and Diatabs with an estimated value of P50 million from a warehouse in Pasig City.

Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero lamented how these businesses are operating during this time when the public is facing difficulties in purchasing anti-flu medicines amid the surge in COVID-19.

“It is sad how these criminals are using the pandemic for their own gain, especially when it comes to medicines. These are medicines that people thought will relieve them of their pain, their conditions. It is unforgivable that these individuals are using people’s desperation to earn money,” he said.

The Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry earlier assured that there was no shortage in supply of some medicine brands, and that pharmacies only experienced temporary stockout due to “overwhelming demand.”

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