P2.4M-worth of rare agarwood seized at NAIA

Marje Pelayo   •   December 4, 2020   •   405

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) Port of NAIA recently intercepted three packages containing 28 kilograms of agarwood at a Fedex warehouse in Pasay City.

The packages, with an estimated street value of P2.4 million, were misdeclared as face masks, clothes, shoes and handbags.

Upon x-ray inspection, the packages yielded different images compared to what were declared by the sender thus, they were subjected to physical examination which revealed a total of 28 kilos of agarwood. 

All three packages were shipped by a resident from Davao bound for the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

They were attempted to be exported without the necessary permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Agarwood is classified under the “Appendix 2” of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) and found only in the jungles in Mindanao and Visayas.

Agarwood is a resin valued for its distinctive fragrance. It is formed when the host tree becomes infected with a mold called Phialophoraparasitica.

The mold infection makes the tree produce a dark aromatic resin called aloes or aga in its heartwood. The fragrant resin is used to make incense, perfume and medicinal products particularly in the Middle East and Asia.

DENR stressed that selling agarwood or lapnisan is illegal in the Philippines. 

According to the BOC, foreigners are said to hike to remote villages in the country seeking help to find the rare tree.

According to reports, the treasure is one of the rarest and expensive trees in the world. A kilo of agarwood fetches as much as P750,000.

The packages shall be subjected to seizure and forfeiture proceedings for violation of Section 117 (Regulated Shipments), Section 1400 (Misdeclaration) and Section 1113 (Property Subject to Seizure and Forfeiture), all of Republic Act No. 10863 (CMTA) in relation to Section 27 (i) [Illegal Transport] of Republic Act No. 9147 (Wildlife Act). 

The seized packages will be turned over to the DENR.

BOC warns public against proliferation of fake COVID-19 vaccines

Marje Pelayo   •   December 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines —  The Bureau of Customs (BOC) warns the public on possible influx of fake and smuggled coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines into the market as various pharmaceutical companies worldwide race for the formulation that would defeat the deadly virus.

The BOC cited an article released by Europol and the United States Department of Homeland Security which mentioned the great possibility that organized crime groups may exploit the highly lucrative COVID-19 vaccine market. 

The article also stated that in some countries, crime groups have already tried to market fake influenza vaccines which were not manufactured and proven to be falsified.

Thus, the BOC advises the public to remain vigilant and report the presence of suspected  smuggled and fake vaccines in the country. 

The BOC also warned the public of vaccines being sold online as these items may be fake and could cause serious health problems.

In recent announcements, the government reiterated that any drug or vaccine such as the COVID-19 vaccine must be registered and approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before being released into the market.

P1.72-M worth of Agarwood seized at Davao port

Marje Pelayo   •   December 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs – Port of Davao intercepted a shipment of agarwood worth P1.72 million initially misdeclared as wood frames for souvenirs.

The operation halted the potential illegal export of the said shipment.

The package was discovered through x-ray scanning and physical examination and found to contain 671 pieces of Agarwood chips sought to be illegally exported from the country without the necessary permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The operation was made possible through the coordination of BOC – Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the PNP Aviation Security Group and the DENR Region XI.

The seized package shall be subjected to seizure and forfeiture proceedings for violation of Section 117 (Regulated Shipments), Section 1400 (Misdeclaration) and Section 1113 (Property Subject to Seizure and Forfeiture), all of Republic Act No. 10863 (CMTA) in relation to Section 27 (i) [Illegal Transport] of Republic Act No. 9147 (Wild Life Act), and shall be turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Agarwood is classified under the “Appendix 2” of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) and found only in the jungles in Mindanao and Visayas.

It is valued for its distinctive fragrance used to make incense, perfume, and medicinal products particularly in the Middle East and Asia, according to the DENR.

BOC assures no port congestion amid truck ban

Marje Pelayo   •   December 15, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has refuted allegations of port congestion now that a total truck ban is in effect against six-wheelers and up, from EDSA Magallanes in Pasay to North Avenue in Quezon City.

The implementation of the truck ban has been reinstated after nine months since the onset of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Though window hours are set on other major thoroughfares in Metro Manila, some truckers criticize the implementation of the truck ban claiming that it would only lead to different problems such as increased congestion. 

However, the BOC is optimistic as the agency has been keeping the yard utilization rate within the desired level in alignment with the global standard rate which does not exceed 70%. 

The agency further noted that from December 1 to 13, the average yard utilization of Manila International Container Port (MICP) is at a manageable level of 75%.

“To ensure the unhampered delivery of services and avoid possible port congestion, the Bureau is closely coordinating with Shipping Lines and Terminal Operators as our proactive role in averting the unlikely event of port congestion,” said deputy commissioner of Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group, Atty. Edward James Dy Buco.

The official added that the BOC directed the Customs Container Control Division (CCCD) of each port to strictly ensure the loading out of empty containers. 

All Assessment Offices personnel are also instructed to immediately process laden containers for prompt release to prevent them from piling up at the port.

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