PCG, BOC strengthen cooperation on border patrol, anti-smuggling ops

Robie de Guzman   •   September 11, 2020   •   310

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have agreed to enhance their cooperation on border control, anti-smuggling and other customs fraud.

This is through the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on Thursday for the joint manning and operation of 20 newly-procured fast patrol boats of the BOC.

In a statement, the PCG said that under the MOA, Coast Guard commandant Admiral George Ursabia and Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero have agreed to work together for the efficient utilization and navigation of these 12-meter floating assets for the performance of law enforcement functions to uphold security, peace, and order within the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines.

Under the MOA, the BOC shall have the authority to deploy the fast patrol boats for law enforcement missions, while the PCG shall share its technical expertise in operating and navigating said floating assets and ensure that knowledge and skills are efficiently transferred to BOC personnel.

In an event of natural calamity or national emergency, the PCG, upon proper coordination with the BOC, may utilize the fast patrol boats in conducting search and rescue (SAR) operations and responding to maritime incidents.

Each fast boat shall be manned by a total of nine crew members, composed of five BOC personnel and four PCG non-officers, who satisfactorily completed the Small Boat Operation and Management Course.

While the PCG assists the BOC in maintaining the fast patrol boats, the BOC shall be responsible in allocating funds for the daily preventive maintenance of equipment or machines onboard, procurement of spare parts and other consumables, as well as dry docking and other repair activities.

“We are honored to further collaborate with the Bureau of Customs in deterring and preventing illegal activities in our country’s waters. Rest assured that we will pursue our commitment in keeping the Philippine maritime jurisdiction safe and secured,” Ursabia said.

“I look forward to the successful implementation of this agreement. I am grateful to the Philippine Coast Guard for assisting us in the enforcement of laws pertaining the border control, prevention of entry of smuggling, and other customs fraud that hinder the growth of our national economy,” Guerrero added.

The MOA took effect on September 10 and shall be referred in full force and effect for a period of five years.

P4.5 million worth of shabu seized in Pasay City

Robie de Guzman   •   September 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has seized 640 grams of shabu (crystal meth) estimated to worth P4.5 million in a warehouse in Pasay City.

The contraband was found in an unclaimed parcel at the DHL warehouse.

The BOC said the seized illegal drug was concealed inside tin cans of wafer and packs of chocolates, stuffed toys, candies and slippers to avoid detection.

It was shipped from Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States and consigned to a certain resident of Hagonoy, Bulacan.

However, its contents were detected through “intensified vigilance and profiling BOC-NAIA” and coordinated with Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA and the NAIA Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (IADITG).

Chemical Laboratory Analysis conducted by PDEA confirmed that the seized white crystalline substance were indeed methamphetamine hydrochloride.

The BOC said the items have been turned over to the PDEA on Sept. 24 for further profiling and case build-up against those behind its importation for possible prosecution for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 in relation to Section 1401 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

Bureau of Customs steps up drive vs rice smuggling

Robie de Guzman   •   September 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is ramping up its campaign against rice smuggling even amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by conducting raids on warehouses suspected of storing illegally imported grains following reports from concerned citizens, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

In a statement on Tuesday, the DOF said that Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero has assured Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III that rice stocks imported by private traders during the pandemic would still be subject to “post-modification and post audit.”

This system will ensure that undervalued shipments are properly assessed and subsequently paid with the correct amount of duties and taxes.

Guerrero also said he had informed the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) that because rice is considered a “critical” commodity, traders were allowed to avail of the Provisional Goods Declaration in processing their shipments at this time of the coronavirus pandemic.

The FFF earlier questioned the BOC’s assessment and valuation system on the entry of rice imports.

“The BOC has found the valuation of several rice shipments with provisional goods declaration to be quite low compared to the prevailing market prices,” Guerrero said in his report to Dominguez.

“But those are subject to post-modification and post-audit. And in the meantime, we are still conducting the post-modification, verifying the payments of rice because some of them are clearly undervalued. So we will catch up in the post modification and post-audit,” he added.

Under Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 07-2020, if the Customs district/sub-port collector accepts a provisional goods declaration, the duty and tax treatment of the goods under provisional declaration will not be different from that of goods with complete declaration.

For the release of shipments under tentative assessment, the importer will be required to post the required security, whether in the form of surety bond or cash bond.

Guerrero said the customs bureau has also responded to reports by concerned citizens regarding warehouses suspected of storing smuggled rice stocks by immediately issuing letters of authority to enable BOC officers to inspect such warehouses and seize goods without the requisite importation permits.

“We actually raided them and we found out that many of these warehouses were operating legally and their stocks are covered by proper documents,” Guerrero said.

PH security forces foil bomb plot in Jolo, Sulu

Robie de Guzman   •   September 21, 2020

A bomb plot in the capital town of Jolo in Sulu province believed to have been orchestrated by local terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was foiled by the Philippine security forces, the military said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said, this is after the elements of the Philippine Coast Guard-Explosive and Ordnance Division (PCG) discovered a baggage that contained an improvised explosive device allegedly planted at the local port on Saturday.

The military added that a PCG patrol team found the abandoned baggage between the office of the Harbor Master and the Maritime Police Office at Jolo port.

A K9 unit deployed to the area confirmed that the baggage contained a bomb.

Operating troops of the 35th Infantry Battalion immediately cordoned off the area while the bomb squad carefully disarmed the explosive which was assembled using two electric blasting caps, a rifle grenade, a spark plug and concrete nails.

“I commend our troops and our partners for the accomplishment. You saved the lives of the innocent people and foiled this terroristic activity of our heartless enemies,” said Brig. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of the anti-terror Joint Task Force Sulu.

AFP Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. also commended the troops.

“This success is a result of the intensified conduct of intelligence operations and the strengthened collaboration with the police and other security agencies, thus preempting the terrorists from executing their terror plan. I commend the troops of the JTF Sulu for a job well done,” he said.

The military said tight security measures remain in place as government troops continue to pursue ASG leader Mundi Sawadjaan who was said to the brains of the twin bomb attacks in Barangay Walled City in Jolo barely a month ago that killed 14 people and injured others. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Val Villaflor)

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