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

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020   •   729

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.

Dominguez tells DOF, attached agencies to prepare back-to-office plans

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines ­– Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has ordered the department and its attached agencies and state corporations to prepare their respective plans on transitioning work back to their respective offices.

In a statement, the DOF said Dominguez has emphasized that the back-to-office plans should strictly adhere to health and safety protocols being implemented against COVID-19.

The order comes after more than a year of shifting to work-from-home (WFH) arrangements because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it added.

Dominguez said that as more government employees get fully vaccinated, the DOF and its agencies such as the Bureaus of Customs (BOC), of Internal Revenue (BIR), of Local Government Finance (BLGF) and of the Treasury (BTr); Insurance Commission (IC), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and other attached organizations should gradually shift to working normally in their respective offices.

The transition plans, Dominguez said, should include testing protocols for employees and their immediate families, and seminars to educate them on how to return safely to full-time office work.

“I think that we should already have a plan for transitioning back into working normally. In other words, back-to-office work,” Dominguez said during a recent executive committee (Execom) meeting.

“I’d like everybody to start working on this plan already assuming that we’re going to have to live with this virus,” he added.

The Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has yet to allow the full transition to back-to-office arrangements with the National Capital Region (NCR) now under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) with Alert Level 3 status.

The DOF said that 76.6 percent of its employees have been fully vaccinated, as of October 8.

BOC seizes P17 million worth of smuggled agri, frozen food products

Robie de Guzman   •   October 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday said it has confiscated an estimated P17 million worth of smuggled agricultural and frozen food products in various operations.

In a statement, the BOC said that P2 million worth of frozen food products were seized in San Nicolas in Manila and P15 million in Caloocan City.

The items were confiscated on Oct. 15 in a simultaneous operations conducted by teams from the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) of Manila International Container Port (MICP), National Bureau of Investigation, and PCG Task Force Aduana.

The BOC said the operation was launched when the items arrived at the cold storage facilities.

In the initial inventory of the goods in San Nicolas Manila, the bureau said that hundreds of boxes of frozen Peking duck, shabu-shabu balls, dimsum, mushroom, Chinese sausage, and others were found.

On the other hand, frozen pork, chicken, fish, beef plus pork liver, fish skin, and others were found in Caloocan.

“Since other regulated imported foodstuff was found, a Letter of Authority was then issued by the Commissioner against the owners, representatives, and whoever is in possession of the imported goods found,” the bureau said.

On the same date, two containers initially declared as “frozen malt” were inspected and found out to contain smuggled onions.

The shipment that arrived at Port of Cagayan de Oro was consigned to South Road Consumer Goods Trading.

Meanwhile, on October 18 at the same port, another examination of two containers consigned to Glimmer Cape Food Products Trading said to contain seasoning, was conducted resulting in the discovery of onions.

The subject goods shall be subject to seizure and forfeiture proceedings in violation of Section 1113 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, the BOC said.

P3 million worth of smuggled onions seized in Cagayan

Robie de Guzman   •   October 19, 2021

Two containers filled with onions allegedly smuggled from China were confiscated at the Port of Cagayan de Oro, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.

In a news release on Monday, the BOC said the containers were seized last October 15.

The shipment, which was consigned to South Road Consumer Goods Trading, arrived in Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) Sub-port in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

The BOC said the containers were declared to contain “frozen malt” but was later found to be onions when subjected to physical examination.

The bureau said the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS-CDO) Field Station led by IO1 Oliver Valiente was alerted of the shipment after receiving derogatory information for possibly containing smuggled goods.

A Warrant of Seizure and Detention was already recommended for issuance against the smuggled shipment, it added.

Atty. Elvira Cruz, District Collector of the Port of Cagayan de Oro commended the vigilance of the customs personnel against smuggled vegetables which have been affecting local farmers as the influx of cheap agricultural products in the market significantly reduce their income.

Last September, the BOC said the Port of Cagayan de Oro destroyed P13.5 million worth of smuggled onions from China.

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