PH Customs bans entry of vaping products through ports

Robie de Guzman   •   November 25, 2019   •   1095

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has ordered all ports across the country to prevent the entry of vaping products following President Rodrigo Duterte’s verbal directive to ban its importation.

In a Facebook post, the BOC said it is closely coordinating with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies for the enforcement of the ban.

“The Bureau of Customs has issued a directive to its Intelligence and Enforcement Groups as well as all our ports of entry to be vigilant and prevent the entry of Vape products and its related items in compliance with the order of President Rodrigo Duterte,” it said.

“Hence all importation of Vape products and its related items shall immediately be subject to seizure by the Bureau of Customs,” it added.

Duterte on Tuesday announced a ban on the use, sale and importation of electronic cigarettes and other similar vaping devices, and directed law enforcers to arrest vape smokers in public.

The Chief Executive’s announcement came after a recent report of the first e-cigarette vaping-associated lung injury (e-VALI) in the country.

The President said an executive order will be issued to formalize his directive.

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.

P1.8 million worth of ecstasy pills seized in Pasay City

Robie de Guzman   •   September 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities intercepted another smuggled shipment of party drug ecstasy worth P1.8 million in Pasay City.

The shipment, which contains 980 pieces of ecstasy pills, were found in a parcel misdeclared as “samples” at the Central Mail Exchange Center.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) seized the shipment with the help of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group.

The package was shipped by a certain “U Janssen” from Netherlands and consigned to a certain “Joey S. Ramos Jr.” from Malate, Manila.

The BOC said the party drugs were found after the parcel was subjected to X-Ray scanning and 100% physical examination.

The examination yielded three vacuum sealed pouches containing different colors of pills – gray, turquoise, and orange pills – that were concealed inside a brown envelope.

Field tests conducted by authorities confirmed that the seized Tablets were indeed Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) or commonly known as ecstasy.

The BOC said the contraband was turned over to the PDEA on Thursday for profiling and case build-up against the importers and other personalities involved for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 in relation to Section 1401 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

BOC destroys tons of seized illegal vape products, other goods

Robie de Guzman   •   September 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Around 21 tons of unsafe and hazardous goods were destroyed in a facility in Trece Martires, Cavite, the Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) said on Monday.

In a statement, the BOC said the items, which included unregistered vape products, medicines and other supplies, were destroyed on Sept. 9.

The vape products were seized for lack of necessary importation permits from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the bureau added.

Vape products are used for inhalation of vapor created by an electronic cigarette and other similar devices. These items have cartridges filled with liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings ad chemicals.

The importation and use of vape products were highly regulated by the FDA in view of its noted health hazards, while the importation of unregistered vape products was prohibited under Republic Act No. 11467.

The BOC-NAIA similarly condemned expired food supplies, dietary supplements, medicines, medical kits and devices, glutathione products which were also imported without the necessary FDA permit.

These products can pose health risks if not disposed properly, the bureau said.

Part of the condemned goods last September 9 were other regulated items such as animal feeds, cements, electrical items, bulbs and batteries that were imported without necessary clearances.

The BOC said it will continue to check unsafe and hazardous goods arriving into the country without the proper approval and safety standards clearance to protect consumers and to ensure that only products certified by regulatory agencies with necessary permits are released in the country’s ports of entry.

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