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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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PACC to conduct own probe on P6.8-billion shabu smuggling in BOC

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, December 7th, 2018

One of the four magnetic scrap lifters which reportedly concealed P6.8 billion worth of shabu

MANILA, Philippines — The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) expressed dissatisfaction over the result of the inquiry conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the P6.8 billion shabu shipment in the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Though the commission respects the Senate committee’s recommendations on the issue, PACC chairman Dante Jimenez said they will conduct their own investigation on the matter.

The PAAC will form a fact-finding committee to identify individuals responsible for the of smuggling of billions worth of illegal drugs into the country.

“Ang nakikita po namin dito kulang. Hindi kami nagmamarunong but we will exhaust all efforts, I will not allow this just like that na sarado na,” said Jimenez.

Aside from the BOC and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the PACC will also invite officials from the Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Ports Authority, as well as other government agencies.

The PAAC will also tap former BOC district collector Atty. Lourdes Mangaoang to help in the investigation.

Mangaoang has previously accused former Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña of having information about the smuggling of shabu shipment concealed in several magnetic lifters.

This is why the PACC is questioning the decision of the Blue Ribbon Committee to clear Lapeña of charges.

“Actually medyo hindi ako masyadong nagulat ng na-clear si Lapeña dahil may nababalitaan na ako noon pa na pinagyayabang sa part ng nga tao ni General Lapeña na allegedly ayos na raw na nakausap na — allegedly,” said the former district collector.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon has yet to comment on the statement of the PACC. — Joan Nano | UNTV News & Rescue

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DENR, BOC probe garbage shipment from South Korea

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, November 16th, 2018

Tons of waste shipload from South Korea | Photo courtesy to DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda

MANILA, Philippines — Officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) assured that they are now working to immediately resolve the issue on the waste shipment from Korea that was dumped in an area in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

BOC Spokesperson Atty. Erastus Sandino Austria said they are investigating responsible parties including the consignee of the said shipment.

“You have to look the entire transaction, of course, no and get the real facts so that we can hold the people responsible liable,” said Austria.

Containers with about 1,500 tons of garbage arrived last July 21 at the Mindanao Container Terminal aboard the vessel MV Affluent Ocean.

The shipload declared as ‘plastic synthetic flakes’, was said to be consigned to South Korean company Verde Soko II Industrial Corporation.

Initial findings showed that the shipment contained used batteries, dextrose tubes, and diapers.

“I think in-accurate naman po na maluwag ang Customs kaya po tayo nalulusutan ng basura. Sana naman huwag natin pabayaan yung situation na nagiging isang malaking tambakan ng basura ng ibang bansa ang bayan natin. Kaya po ito actually hinuli ng Bureau of Customs no dahil bawal ito obviously na hindi ito dapat ginagawa,” said Austria.

The BOC says the importer and other parties involved in the issue will likely face multiple charges for misdeclaration of goods and for violating environmental laws and the Customs Modernization And Tariff Act.

“I hope that in the future our stakeholders will not be complicit to committing something like this and if our own personnel are also involved in it in any way like by willful misconduct or negligence on their part to properly scrutinize these transactions. They will be held responsible and they will be held liable for this both the erring stakeholders and as well as the erring Bureau of Customs personnel,” said Custom spokesperson.

The EcoWaste Coalition has expressed dismay over the matter which comes amid the still unresolved issue of wastes from Canada that has been languishing in the country.

“Hindi pa kasi natatapos at nareresolba yung nangyari na pagtatambak dito ng Canada ng garbage. E eto na naman at mayroon na namang kasunod na mga basura mula sa mayayamang bansa na mapupunta at tinatapon dito sa atin. Hindi kami natutuwa rito lalo na at hazardous waste,” said EcoWaste Coalition coordinator Aileen Lucero.

The DENR is now looking for ways to return the shipload of waste to South Korea. — Cathy Maglalang| UNTV News & Rescue

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Duterte orders military takeover in the Bureau of Customs

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, October 29th, 2018

 

Bureau of Customs

MANILA, Philippines –President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a military takeover of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

After a major shift in its leadership and relief of commissioners and section chiefs, the President also placed all Customs employees under floating status and were required to report directly to the Office of the President.

“I’d like to put on notice everybody in the Bureau of Customs they are all floating status. They will — they can — maybe start again working but I said they are on floating status…all police — Customs police are also on floating status, everybody. The Customs Intelligence Unit, they are to report to Malacañang, all of them. I am ordering everybody to report to my office,” he said during the celebration of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano’s natal day on Sunday (October 28).

“They will be replaced all — all of them — by military men. It will be a takeover of the Armed Forces in the matter of operating in the meantime while we are sorting out how to effectively meet the challenges of corruption in this country,” the President said further.

The President explained that though he believes not everyone at BOC is corrupt, he said he has no time to check every single employee’s track record so he decided to remove everyone to weed out the agency of “thieves or robbers.”

“Baka sabihin ni Duterte, ‘Hindi naman kami lahat magnanakaw eh.’ Correct. So very correct. You are right. Not all of you are thieves or robbers, but you know you must be an idiot not to understand. You say that you are honest, that you are not part of the cabal there. And so? If that is your line, I cannot move and you stay there then I have to speculate if you are really a gangster working for the Bureau of Customs, a government employee,” President Duterte said.

“I do not have time for that…you try to sort out there from the inside. No, I’d like them out, then one by one if they are still deserved. If none then since I cannot fire them I’ll have to file a case which could — appeal after appeal it could maybe last for another 10 years. And so by that time, we have lost so many billions and you are destroying my country,” he added.

President Duterte’s order came after he transferred former Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and replaced him with former Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) administrator Retired AFP chief of staff General Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

Lapeña was placed in hot water after a shipment of shabu valued at P6.8B  loaded inside four magnetic lifters,  slipped Customs inspection in August. – Marje Pelayo

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