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P1.2-M worth of smuggled cigarettes seized in Port of Zamboanga

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

Courtesy: Bureau of Customs

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — A total of 2,125 reams of smuggled cigarettes amounting to P1.2 million were confiscated at the port of Zamboanga on Wednesday (July 10).

According to the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the illegal shipments were uncovered on board three passenger vessels: MV Mama Mia, MV Mary Joy 1 and MV Asian Stars, all from Jolo, Sulu.

Members of the BOC Enforcement and Security Service (BOC-ESS) and the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) launched the operation with assistance from the Naval Intelligence and Security Group – Western Mindanao and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

The latest seizure caused concern for the BOC noting the prevalence of cigarette smuggling in the area, according to Zamboanga District Collector Segundo Sigmundfreud Barte.

The BOC cited that the agency already hauled P60 million worth of smuggled cigarettes just between April and June this year.

Nevertheless, Barte stressed that the Bureau will continue its fervent effort to fight illicit cigarette trade in cooperation with concerned government agencies. The seized cigarettes were already turned over to the BOC for immediate destruction

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34 of 400 samples of pork products tested positive of African Swine Fever – BAI

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Boxes of pork items from Poland intercepted in Cebu on June 27 | Courtesy: BAI

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a number of pork products from Hong Kong and China at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in between June 19 to 28.

The items didn’t have sanitary and phytosanitary clearances from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and could have been infested by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

China is one of the 19 countries from where entry of pork and pork-based products are banned.

From a total of 400 samples that BAI examined, 34 tested positive of ASF and these products could have caused infestation in the country’s hog industry if they were not intercepted.

Germany was the latest addition to the list of countries where entry of pork products to the Philippines was banned.

Though there were no reports yet of ASF-infestation in Germany, the Philippines included it in the list after a German company exported pork products to the Philippines along with some 250 kilograms of pork from ASF-hit Poland.

The said shipment was intercepted in Cebu on June 27 which included 27 boxes of pork items from Poland.

That incident, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, was a clear violation of the country’s Quarantine Law thus resulting in the ban of pork products from Germany.

“Nakikiusap ako.(‘Im appealing to you) Please understand, these are extraordinary times. We cannot take the risk,” Secretary Piñol said.

“Kasi tingnan mo, Germany napaka-respectable na bansa nyan. It’s export country known for its high standards, nasingitan tayo, (You see Germany is a highly respected country. It’s exports are known for its high standards but some banned (pork) slip past their screening,)” he explained.

Piñol stressed that ASF infestation would compromise the country’s P260-B worth of hog industry.

Some of the Philippines’ neighboring countries have already declared an outbreak of ASF such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked store owners to self-recall pork products from China that covers those manufactured since the start of the import ban.

Still, Piñol assures the Philippines’ hog industry remains ASF free. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

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Customs personnel tagged in corruption to face admin raps before Ombudsman – Palace

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte meets the relieved employees of the Bureau of Customs in Malacañang on July 18, 2019. | Courtesy: Sen. Bong Go

MANILA, Philippines – Officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) tagged in corruption allegations will face administrative charges before the Office of the Ombudsman, Malacañang said on Friday.

“Administrative charges over allegations of corrupt practices in office will be filed against them before the Office of the Ombudsman, unless they opt to resign, and the prosecutors will ask for their immediate suspension,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

On Thursday night, President Rodrigo Duterte met with dozens of customs personnel in Malacañang.

Panelo said Duterte told them they will be given their day in court as part of the due process.

“The President has been forthright in telling these customs officials and employees that corruption has no place under his watch,” Panelo said.

“PRRD [President Rodrigo Roa Duterte] assured them that he would not begrudge them if they would avail of legal remedies to question their removal from office,” he added.

The president, Panelo said, “thanked them for accepting his invitation to meet him in Malacañang, which according to him, showed they still have respect for him.”

While waiting for the formal filing of charges, the said customs officials will be “in floating status without authority to act on official matters.”

The chief executive earlier ordered for the freezing of several high-ranking customs officials who were accused of corrupt practices in office.

READ: Duterte orders freezing of several Customs officials, employees

“Let this serve as a reminder to all those officials or employees in the government that they cannot escape liability or accountability for their acts of corruption under the Duterte administration,” Panelo said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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Duterte orders freezing of several Customs officials, employees

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, July 11th, 2019

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a situation briefing with members of his Cabinet and local government officials to discuss disaster response measures in the aftermath of Tropical Depression (TD) ‘Usman’. at the Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC) in Pili, Camarines Sur on January 4, 2019 ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the freezing of several high-ranking officials and employees of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) over corruption allegations.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said these officials are facing administrative and criminal charges for unlawful activities. Their names, he said would be disclosed “at the appropriate time.”

“The President’s latest action underscores this Administration’s zero tolerance on corruption among erring officials,” Panelo said in a statement released on Wednesday night (July 10).

“We continue to dismantle corruption in the bureaucracy and rid it of corrupt officials and employees… The anti-corruption campaign is continuing as it is relentless. No one will be spared,” he added.

Duterte’s order was issued days after he warned of firing several Customs officials who are accused of corruption. The president also bared he was mulling over another revamp in the BOC.

READ: Duterte mulls another Customs revamp

He also mentioned anew his earlier proposal of bringing the military into the BOC to address corruption allegations in the agency.

It can be recalled that in October 2018, the president said he is considering asking military men to take over the BOC due to the rampant corruption and drug smuggling activities.

Although there are reports that corruption and bribery still continue to thrive in the BOC, Malacañang said on Tuesday that Customs chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero still enjoys the trust and confidence of the president. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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