DOF: P244-M worth of smuggled PPEs, medical supplies seized by Customs from March to May

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020   •   470

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has confiscated P244-million worth of smuggled, unregistered or counterfeit personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies from March 25 to May 31, 2020, the Department of Finance (DOF) said on Friday.

In a statement, the DOF said the seizure is part of the BOC’s efforts to stop the illegal importation, storage and hoarding of goods deemed essential to the fight against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the BOC said that while it has released various regulations to facilitate and speed up the process of importing PPEs and other medical supplies, some unscrupulous traders have taken advantage of the coronavirus-induced crisis to smuggle such items into the country.

In his report, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said he has issued 10 Letters of Authority covering the inspection of persons and premises suspected of selling or storing smuggled and/or unregistered medicines and equipment from March 25 to May 31 this year.

“Moreover, profiling/targeting of imported shipments suspected to contain contraband and other smuggled articles were intensified. As a result a total of P244.4 million-worth of smuggled/counterfeit/unregistered PPE and medicines were seized by the Bureau,” Guerrero added.

Last May 1, various PPEs, and P70-million worth of Chinese medicines that supposedly cure COVID-19 were seized by the BOC in a warehouse in Singalong, Manila.

Guerrero said in his report that the medicines, which were contained in about 360 boxes, were not registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The BOC chief also said that they have seized other medical supplies in various operations including the following:

  • P5 million worth of masks, gloves, goggles, alcohol, thermal scanners, test tubes and syringes under the name of Philmed Dynasty Supplies Corp. based in Binondo, Manila;
  • An estimated P30 million-worth of various PPEs, such as gloves, masks, and googles under the name of ELJ1 Medical Shop based in Sta. Cruz, Manila; and
  • An estimated P9 million-worth of various PPEs, such as gloves, masks, goggles from the Medical Outlet based in Rizal Avenue, Manila.
  • An estimated P80 million-worth of various PPEs, such as gloves, masks, goggles, medicines, and foodstuffs from an establishment located at HK Sun Plaza, Macapagal Blvd., Pasay City.
  • An estimated P400,000-worth of various medical supplies and medicines from Ton Ren Tang Chinese Medication, Binondo, Manila.
  • An estimated P50 million-worth of various medical equipment and supplies from Omnibus Biomedical Systems.

“The cases involving these smuggled or unregistered products are now the subject of forfeiture proceedings by the BOC before the law division of the Manila International Container Port (MICP),” Guerrero said.

Aside from these items, the BOC also reported that it seized 2.2 kilograms of imported Chinese medicines without FDA clearance last April 27, and has initiated the filing of appropriate charges against their importers and consignees.

Another five boxes of Chinese medicines containing 48,000 medicinal tablets and bundled with 238 master cases of assorted imported cigarettes; 4 drums of toluene-2.4 diisocyanate; 2 drums of propylene glycol; 2 drums of glycerol-propoxylate-block-ethoxylate; 2 drums of vacuum pump oil; 2 drums of paraffin oil; 2 drums of power steering fluid; 1 drum of sodium hypochlorite; and 2 drums of siloxane were confiscated from a warehouse in Valenzuela City last April 30.

Guerrero said these were seized and taken into custody by the BOC for failure of the owner to present the required import documents for these items.

Over P186 million worth of smuggled cigarettes seized in Manila Port

Robie de Guzman   •   July 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Around seven containers carrying undeclared cigarettes were intercepted at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.

In a statement on Monday, the BOC said around 6,249 master cases of Two Moon, Mighty, Marvel and D&B Cigarettes that are estimated to have the market value of P P186.9 million were found inside the containers upon physical examination of its personnel.

Verification of documents showed that the shipment came from China and were declared to contain towels, school bags, bed sheets, non-woven bags and fabrics.

The BOC said the operation marks the biggest apprehension of smuggled cigarettes by MICP.

Possible charges may be filed against those behind the shipment for violation of Section 117 in relation to Section 1113 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) and other relative National Tobacco Administration (NTA) and Bureau of Internal revenue (BIR) rules and regulations, the bureau added.

Importer who squeezed in 63 reptiles inside luggage convicted for high-profile wildlife smuggling

Marje Pelayo   •   July 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday (July 23) announced the conviction of an importer who tried to illegally sneak in 63 reptiles into the country.

According to the BOC, Judge Allan Ariola of Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 48, sentenced the importer a penalty of three to six months imprisonment for violation of Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.

The imported exotic wildlife include 54 Iguanas; two Basilisk; four Veiled Chameleon and three Bearded Dragon.

The importer, who flew in from Bangkok, Thailand, was intercepted in February 2019 by BOC personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 through an after-flight screening upon arrival.

The animals, which were concealed inside his luggage, had no import permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

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Smuggled cigarettes worth P107 million seized at Port of Davao

Robie de Guzman   •   July 22, 2020

The Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Port of Davao said it has intercepted four 40-foot containers of illegally imported cigarettes valued at P107,414,676.74 through the continuous coordination with the bureau’s Intelligence Group (IG) and Enforcement Group (EG).

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the BOC said intelligence reports earlier revealed that the first two containers that arrived last July 10 at the Davao International Container Terminal (DICT) were said to contain 2,180 boxes of brand-new tissue papers.

“However, subsequent derogatory information was received from IG and EG that led to the issuance of a Pre-Lodgment Control Order (PLCO) after discovering that no goods declaration was lodged by the consignee and possible misdeclaration of the said commodity,” the bureau said.

The shipment was consigned to Golden Aark Enterprises.

Authorities then conducted non-intrusive inspection and 100% physical examination that yielded misdeclaration of goods as 1,205 boxes Astro Branded Cigarettes and 942 boxes of YS filter cigarettes resulting to the apprehension last July 14.

The BOC said two more containers arrived at the same terminal last July 12 declaring 1,940 boxes of the same commodity.

Authorities conducted x-ray inspection and 100% examination that revealed 942 boxes of YS filter cigarettes and 941 Fort Branded Cigarettes which were also apprehended last July 16 at DICT.

The agency noted that the previous apprehension had the offenders trying to outsmart the system by not declaring the shipment’s details in the e-manifest – a system by which BOC determines the cargo’s details and its intended port of destination.

However, intensified intel gathering revealed that the intended destination of these shipments was Davao; to which customs has sole jurisdiction in conducting examination.

“In the midst of the pandemic, Customs Davao shall ensure that its border security protocols, and coordination with partner agencies remain steadfast in securing the borders of Mindanao” Customs Davao District Collector, Atty. Erastus Sandino Austria said.

The bureau said Austria issued a Warrant of Seizure and Detention (WSD) to these illicit articles in violation of Executive Order No.245 “Amended Rules and Regulations Governing the Exportation and Importation of Leaf Tobacco and Tobacco Products”, Graphic Health Warnings (GHW) Law or R.A. 10643, otherwise known as “An Act to Effectively Instill Health Consciousness through Graphic Health Warning on Tobacco Products.” and section 117 of R.A. 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

Last June 3, 2020, the agency said that Sub-port Dadiangas in General Santos City also apprehended 1,325 boxes of smuggled cigarettes from Vietnam valued at more than Php 24 million.

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