Customs to donate to DepEd gadgets, educational items seized at NAIA

Robie de Guzman   •   October 28, 2020   •   245

MANILA, Philippines – Electronic devices and other educational materials seized at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport will be donated to the Department of Education (DepEd) to aid in its distance learning program, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.

In a statement on Tuesday, the BOC said it has conducted inventory of the seized and abandoned items in preparation for donation.

Several devices and items identified for donation include flash drives, hard drives, mobile phones, full HD LED computer monitors, printers, laptops, routers, pocket WiFi, and computer tablets.

The bureau will also donate educational books, and school bags and shoes.

The BOC said it has obtained appropriate clearances from the National Telecommunication Commission and the Optical Media Board to ensure that the items to be donated have passed the minimum standard and are safe for public use.

“Customs NAIA hopes that the gadgets will be of help in the blended learning program of DepEd and be able to support this new learning modalities of students in different communities,” the bureau said.

The effort is part of BOC’s contribution in addressing the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of DepEd’s distance learning program.

Customs condemns over 4,000 kilos of expired medicines, other seized goods

Robie de Guzman   •   December 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday said its operatives in the Port of Clark have disposed of a total of 4,146 kilograms of various goods and products that were abandoned and seized last November 24 in Trece Martires City, Cavite.

Among the disposed of items were assorted expired medicines, food supplements, cosmetic products, and other items which were brought into the country without the necessary permit/approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as required under Section 117 of R.A. 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

The BOC said the condemnation activity was made in accordance with Section 1145 of the CMTA.

It was facilitated by the Port of Clark Auction and Cargo Disposal Unit in the presence of representatives from the FDA, the Commission on Audit (COA), the Enforcement and Security Service (ESS), and the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS).

The bureau said the Port of Clark consistently dispose of all overstaying, abandoned, seized, and forfeited articles “to maximize storage space within the port.”

The measure also seeks to “inform the public that such items should not be imported without compliance to existing rules and regulations of the Bureau of Customs and other government agencies.”

Finance chief orders BIR, BOC to probe coops used for rice imports

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has ordered the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs to assist in the investigation being conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) into the reported use of cooperatives by private traders as dummies for rice imports.

“There’s this question now as to why traders are using coops to import rice …. Let’s look into that because they might be using the tax advantage on rice imports,” Dominguez told BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay and BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero during a recent executive committee meeting.

Dominguez issued the directive following the DA’s decision to temporarily halt the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSIC) to farmers’ cooperatives and irrigators’ associations for commercial purposes.

Through Administrative Order No. 34 issued in October, the DA suspended the SPSICs to coops and irrigators’ associations, effectively barring them from importing rice, after the DA received reports that these organizations have resorted to rice imports rather than carry out their purpose of procuring local rice from farmers.

Both the DOF and DA have also received reports that the SPSICs issued to cooperatives have been misused by traders to avoid legal responsibilities and evade the payment of the correct amount of import taxes.

Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tionko also noted that while cooperatives are not exempted from paying duties for importing rice, they can be exempted from paying the income tax on these imports if they are registered with the BIR as tax-exempt entities.

Through the AO, the DA directed the Bureau of Plant Industry to probe and to consult with affected stakeholders “to come up with new policies and rules to avoid circumvention of the laws” and to protect the farmers and cooperatives form exploitation.

Face-to-face classes will only be allowed upon Duterte, IATF approval – DepEd

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education has stressed that it will only allow the conduct of face-to-face classes upon the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).

Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the government’s policy prohibiting in-person classes will remain amid the coronavirus pandemic, although the department is looking into the possibility of reintroducing face-to-face classes next year.

She said a report to be submitted to the president on the opening of classes and DepEd’s recommendations is being finalized.

“We are preparing a report for the President on our current experience with the opening of classes, at klaro naman na kung magkaroon ng face to face, it will be very limited to areas which are absolutely safe. There will be conditions from the Department of Health; there will also be conditions coming from us. Hindi po lahat-lahat, [hindi] sabay-sabay iyan na mag-face to face, kung payag si President,” Briones said.

“At saka, depende sa approach iyan, kasi iyong number of students, etc. So we are [also] now looking into that,” she added.

The school year opened last October 5 with blended forms of learning through self-learning modules, internet and TV- and radio-based instructions.

The DepEd chief also reiterated its earlier statement that it did not approve any localized and limited face-to-face learning workshops.

“Uulitin ko, definitely not this year at definitely walang mga arrangements right now with kung sinumang mga grupo na magpi-face to face at this time because the President has not made any pronouncement at all. Pero [patuloy kaming] magri-report kami sa kaniya,” Briones said.

Meanwhile, the Education chief also directed a study on reconceptualizing learning spaces post-COVID, which include not just classroom, but homes, community spaces, and virtual space.

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