P2.2 billion worth of smuggled tobacco products seized during quarantine period — BOC

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2020   •   543

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) said it has seized a total of P2.2 billion worth of smuggled cigarettes and other related paraphernalia from May 28 to July 15.

In its report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the BOC said the latest operations on July 12 at the Port of Davao yielded P53 million worth of cigarettes smuggled from Ningbo, China.

Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said the shipment, initially declared as tissue paper, was consigned to Golden Aark Enterprise and transported by SITC Container Lines Philippines Inc. to the country.

The shipment, which was bound for Davao, first entered the country through the sub-port of the Mindanao Container Terminal in Misamis Oriental.

But when the cargo reached its final destination, the containers of smuggled cigarettes were not included in its inward foreign manifest despite other customs documents proving the existence of the shipment.

This discrepancy, along with information received by the BOC’s Intelligence Group regarding the suspected smuggled items, led customs officials to seize the shipment at the Port of Davao.

Guerrero said he has ordered the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) to investigate this new modus operandi in smuggling cigarettes into the country.

“Rest assured that the men and women of the Bureau of Customs will remain vigilant and committed in securing our country’s borders against smuggling and other customs fraud,” Guerrero said in his report.

Guerrero said the accreditation of Golden Aark has already been revoked and appropriate charges will be filed against the firm and its cohorts.

“From said circumstances, there is prima facie evidence that the carrier, SITC Container Lines Philippines, Incorporated, is abetting the consignee in concealing/smuggling the seized contraband in violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 10863 (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act),” Guerrero added.

On top of intensifying its campaign against smuggling amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the BOC said it has also been undertaking measures to facilitate and minimize disruption in the movement of critical medical equipment and supplies entering the ports since President Duterte put the entire country under a state of public health emergency in March.

Since March 25 up to May 31, the BOC said it has also confiscated P244 million-worth of smuggled, unregistered or counterfeit personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other medical supplies, as part of its ongoing efforts to stop the illegal importation, storage, and hoarding of goods deemed essential to the fight against COVID-19.

BOC cleared over 14M doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Friday (June 18) reported that over 14 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been cleared.

During a virtual public briefing on Friday, BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said that among the 14 million doses, 9 million are Sinovac vaccines; 2.5 million are AstraZeneca; 2.4 million are Pfizer-BioNtech; and 180,000 are Sputnik V.

Guerrero said the agency is expediting the process for the immediate distribution of the doses.

He also assured the public that the BOC is also making sure that the PPE’s and other medical equipment arriving in the country have proper documentation. The BOC is also diligent in collecting taxes to fund government projects and boost the country’s economic recovery.

The BOC chair will also make sure to intensify efforts in curbing smuggling. He also advised the public to report any complaints to the agency. AAC

BOC joins Phl Trade Facilitation Committee; ensures improvement in customs procedures

Maris Federez   •   May 24, 2021

 MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) announced that it will join the Philippine Trade Facilitation Committee (PTFC), under the Executive Order (EO) No. 136 series of 2021.

In its statement released on Monday (May 24), the BOC said it will take the role of the committee’s vice-chairperson.

The EO that created the PTFC was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on May 18, 2021, in compliance with the World Trade Organization – Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO-TFA).

The statement said that the committee “aims to streamline and improve customs procedures and facilitate the implementation of rational, efficient, and simple customs rules.”

“The committee will study, propose, and coordinate the position, activities, or actions of the Philippine government on the implementation of the WTO-TFA and other trade facilitation commitments,” it added.

The PTFC is also tasked to submit compliance reports and represent and advance the country’s interests in meetings on the implementation of the WTO-TFA and other trade facilitation commitments.

The order further directs the committee to regularly report to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board Committee on Tariff and Related Matters (CTRM) and submit and seek the Board’s approval on proposed trade regulations, measures, and practices that would expedite the movement and clearance of goods.

The BOC said the committee shall also coordinate with the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) to ensure compliance with Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, in relation to trade facilitation. —/mbmf

P7.3 million worth of smuggled cigarettes seized in waters off Zamboanga City

Robie de Guzman   •   April 30, 2021

State security forces have intercepted a watercraft carrying P7.3 million worth of smuggled cigarettes in waters off Barangay Recodo in Zamboanga City, the Philippine Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) said.

The NFWM said elements from its Seaborne Patrol Units, Navy SEALS, intelligence operatives, and members of the Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Customs seized the contraband that was loaded on MB Dream Boat on April 28.

The smuggled cigarettes were packed in 205 master cases and were loaded in a boat coming from Sulu.

The cigarettes bore brands like Cannon, Champion, New Far Gold, and New Far Green.

The boat had a crew of 10 who were escorted to Naval Station Romulo Espaldon.

“The crew underwent a medical check-up at Camp Navarro General Hospital and were all declared to be in good condition,” the NFWM said.

The apprehended individuals and the confiscated items were turned over to the custody of BOC Zamboanga District for proper disposition, it added.

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