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

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020   •   332

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.

2 nabbed in Batangas over P600,000 worth of Kush Marijuana — Customs

Robie de Guzman   •   January 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Two persons who allegedly claimed a parcel containing P600,000 worth of Kush Marijuana were arrested by authorities, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.

The BOC identified the two as Van Joshua Magpantay and Johnyengle Hernandez who were arrested on Saturday by agents from the bureau, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and the NAIA Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (NAIA-IADITG).

They were apprehended in a vape shop in Lipa City, Batangas during a controlled delivery operation jointly conducted by the BOC, PDEA, and IADITG.

The BOC said the parcel, which arrived thru Fedex Pasay City, was sent by a certain Nina Manual from California, USA.

It was misdeclared as “musical instruments” and consigned to a certain “Dimitria Escalona” of Batangas.

When subjected to x-ray scanning and physical examination, the parcel was found to contain two vacuum-sealed transparent plastics of 500 grams of dried leaves later identified as high-grade marijuana, also known as Kush.

“The apprehended claimants and seized dangerous drugs are now under the custodial investigation of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for filing of criminal charges for violation of Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and Section 1401 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act,” the BOC said in a statement.

The latest apprehension follows the seizure of P1 million worth of ecstasy tablets in Central Mail Exchange Center, it added.

BOC intercepts 28 live venomous scorpions, tarantulas in NAIA

Robie de Guzman   •   January 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Monday said its operatives have seized a package containing a total of 20 endangered tarantula spiders and eight scorpions allegedly smuggled through Central Mail Exchange Center.

The BOC said 28 plastic containers individually housing the tarantulas and scorpions were found upon opening of the package on January 6.

Bureau records show that the package from Samut Parakain, Thailand was misdeclared as “teaching equipment,” and imported without the necessary permits.

The tarantulas and scorpions were immediately transferred and turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit (DENR WTMU) for rehabilitation and care, the BOC said.

Illegal importation, collection and trade of endangered wildlife are punishable by imprisonment of six years and a fine of P200,000.00 under Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Protection and Conservation Act.

The unlawful importation of goods with appraised value of more than P250,000 including duties and taxes is also punishable under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

Last October 2020, the BOC-NAIA also intercepted 119 tarantulas from Poland which were concealed in a pair of rubber shoes.

P1-M worth of ecstasy ‘party drugs’ inside air parcel seized at Central Mail Exchange Center

Marje Pelayo   •   January 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A total of 535 pieces of ecstasy tablets inside an air parcel was intercepted at the Central Mail Exchange Center (CMEC) with a street value of P1-M , the Bureau of Customs (BOC) reported.

The seized tablets were initially discovered by Customs personnel at CMEC during the 100% physical examination of the air parcel. 

Subsequent laboratory tests conducted by the PDEA confirmed the tablets as Ecstasy or “party drugs”. 

Records further show that the subject air parcel came from the Netherlands and was misdeclared as “documents”.

The operation was a collaboration among members of the BOC Port of NAIA, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and NAIA Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (NAIA-IADITG).

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