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Former trade official suggests returning smuggled goods to country of origin

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2018

Former Trade Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba

MANILA, Philippines – Former Trade Undersecretary Vic Dimagiba suggested returning all smuggled goods to its country of origin.

His proposal to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) was prompted by the successive interception of smuggled goods, particularly rice and onions, valued at hundreds of millions of pesos.

Dimagiba said returning the goods would minimize corruption in the agency.

“For as long as it stays there, iyong mga ‘operator,’ papasok na iyan dyan (sasabihin), ‘Boss, gawan natin ng paraan mailalabas natin yan’,” he said.

(For as long as it stays there, so-called “operators” will take the opportunity to solicit bribes in exchange for the shipment’s release saying, “Boss, let’s find a way to release these.”)

But according to BOC, the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippine and the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act has no provision for returning smuggled shipment. The government also has no means to shoulder the shipping cost. BOC also believes that government has ways to apprehend the smugglers once the shipment reaches the country.

“Kapag nakita natin na may ibang laman mas maganda po yun kasi ipo- prosecute natin sila,” Carmelita Valeroso, the OIC of CIIC-MICP-BOC

(If we discover that contents have been misdeclared, that’s actually  better because we can prosecute them.)

Dimagiba suggests that BOC should be more strict and apply the pre-shipping inspection system right there in the country of origin before shipping to the Philippines, like what the agency is doing now with cement products.

“Pagdating mo dito meron ka nang certificate. Kukuha ka nalang ng sample sa mga hardware to verify kung tama o hindi,” Dimagiba said.

(When you arrive here, you already have a certificate. All you have to do is get a sample from the hardware to verify if its correct or not.) — Rey Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue

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HOR briefs on release of 105 ‘questionable’ containers from Manila Port

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Manila Port (UNTV News)

 

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – The House Committee on Ways and Means held a briefing Tuesday, May 15, on the incidents surrounding the release of 105 questionable containers from the port of Manila.

The said containers were under alert order previously issued by Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena.

According to Manila Port district collector Atty. Erastus Austria, the said containers arrived in the country within the period of January to March this year.

Based on initial investigation, the containers were able to exit the port using fake documents. The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is currently looking into a possible conspiracy between the consignee and some Customs personnel.

During the briefing, Sultan Kudarat Representative Horacio Suansing Jr. cited that perhaps the reason why the containers were easily allowed exit was because Commissioner Lapeña issued a manual alert instead of the agency’s electronic alert system.

For the part of BOC, Deputy Commissioner Natalio Etroma defended Lapeña saying the agency’s electronic alert system that time was slow so the Commissioner, with his authority, issued a manual alert.

As of this writing, the BOC has no report yet as to what items are inside the containers.

The Lower House will set the formal hearing once the members of the Committee submit their resolution on the issue to find out who were behind the release of the questionable containers. — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue

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Over P33-M worth of undervalued items seized at Manila Port

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, May 7th, 2018

Container vans loaded with a variety of products

(UPDATED) MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized five 40-feet container vans of undervalued and misdeclared items worth P33 million during a ground inspection at the Port of Manila, Monday, May 7.

The container vans were loaded with a variety of products ranging from rice, housewares, e-cigarettes to cosmetics, shoe imitations and car wheel rims — all shipped from China.

Some were declared as grocery items and glass cups but when checked, the actual products were toiletries and vapes that were not certified by the Food And Drug Administration (FDA.)

A selection of confiscated items will be auctioned off while some will be destroyed by BOC.

According to Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña, the regular ground inspection is the agency’s measure against smuggling. – Mai Bermudez | UNTV News & Rescue

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DA, BOC on ‘high alert’ against smuggling of agricultural products

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has collaborated with the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in intensifying campaign against smuggling of agricultural products following the interception of imported onions in the Port of Manila last week.

On his Facebook account, Secretary Piñol said he asked Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña “to place under “Alert Status” all incoming shipments declared as agricultural products.”

Piñol said, this means, “all containers arriving at the Port of Manila and in other ports all over the country from foreign sources will now be subjected to mandatory inspection.”

Secretary Piñol and Commissioner Lapeña on Monday, April 23, inspected 17 container vans with contents declared as “apples” which later discovered as “apple-sized” onions. The shipment arrived at the port last week from China.

Piñol explained that imported onions are subject for 35% tariff duties while apples are exempted. This perhaps prompted the consignee to misdeclare the shipment in order to escape tariff obligations.

Foiled Bribery Revealed

In a press conference Tuesday, April 24, it was revealed that an anonymous caller attempted to bribe the intercepting team led by Customs Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan. The offer was initially P200,000 for each container van. When Cayanan refused and said their efforts were non-negotiable, the caller increased the offer to P2 million for each container van.

He said the caller initially refused to have the containers inspected.

“Sabi kasi huwag nang pabuksan. Sabi ko, ‘Hindi pwede, i-strip lahat iyan’,” Cayanan said.

(The caller said not to open it. I replied, “No, strip all of them.”)

He added that the caller later agreed to have the last container opened under the condition that neither Cayanan nor Piñol will be present.

Not Fit for Consumption

Secretary Piñol said the seized onions will be destroyed primarily because of sanitary issues.

He explained they are not sure of the quality of the onions which could pose health risks to consumers.

In a statement, Secretary Piñol said his decision to alert authorities against agricultural smuggling also aims to address illegal activities of bringing in agricultural products in the country “which not only defrauds government of revenues but also adversely affects our farmers and fishermen.”

Piñol added that “unchecked entry of these products also pose a serious risk on Philippine agriculture because pests and diseases could be brought in since these are not covered by Sanitary and Pytho-Sanitary (SPS) inspections.”

Meanwhile, BOC is preparing the appropriate charges to file against the consignee of the smuggled onions. —Rey Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue

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