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BOC assures to restore majority of files destroyed by fire

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

Bureau of Customs located at Port Area, Manila

(UPDATED) The Bureau of Customs (BOC) Port of Manila will temporarily transfer its operations to the Customs’ gymnasium in South Harbor, Manila after a huge fire razed its building on Friday night.

Customs District Collector Rhea Gregorio on Saturday said the operations of the Formal Entry Division of the Port of Manila (POM) will be moved to the BOC’s gymnasium to ensure that its services will not be disrupted.

The fire that started around 9 p.m. at BOC’s POM building on Friday destroyed the third and fourth floors of the building, according to Gregorio.

She added that officials are hoping that the fire incident would not lead to delays in the release of shipments.

The BOC-Manila is currently coordinating with Asian Terminals Inc., and other nearby government offices, particularly the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to temporarily use their facilities to continue their operations.

Gregorio also assured the public that while the hard copies of the documents have been destroyed by the fire, they would be able to restore majority of their records in time.

This is through their computerized system and the duplicate copies of some of the documents.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said the blaze was put out at around 7 a.m. Saturday. Investigators are yet to provide details about the extent of the damage and the cause of fire. — Robie de Guzman

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Canada vows to resolve trash dumping issue after Duterte’s war threat

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Containers of mixed wastes shipment from Canada declared as “recyclable scrap plastics” but actually contained household trash, newspapers, plastic bottles and bags, and even used adult diapers.

MANILA, Philippines — Canada has committed to resolve its trash dumping issue with the Philippines.

The Embassy of Canada in the Philippines released a statement on Wednesday (April 24) after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to wage war if Canada will not take its garbage back.

“Canada is strongly committed to collaborating with the Government of the Philippines to resolve this issue and is aware of the court decision ordering the importer to ship the material back to Canada,” the Embassy said in a statement posted on its Facebook account.

The Embassy added that: “A joint technical working group, consisting of officials from both countries, is examining the full spectrum of issues related to the removal of the waste with a view to a timely resolution.”

On Tuesday (April 23), President Duterte issued a warning to Canada for its failure to remove its trash illegally exported to the country.

The President said he would no longer allow Canada to turn the Philippines into a “dumpsite.”

”For Canada’s garbage, I want a boat prepared. I will give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail to Canada and dump their garbage there,” the President said.

“We will declare war. Load the containers to a ship and advise Canada. I will advise Canada that, ‘Your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to,’” he added.

It was between 2013 to 2014 when the Bureau of Customs (BOC) intercepted a total of 103 containers of mixed wastes shipment from Canada declared as “recyclable scrap plastics” but actually contained household trash, newspapers, plastic bottles and bags, and even used adult diapers.

During his visit to the Philippines to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to cooperate with the Philippine government in resolving the offending shipment.

Trudeau, however, said the Philippines and Canadian governments need to settle issues including who will pay for the shipment of the illegal trash to the country.

In its statement, the Embassy reiterated the Canadian government’s commitment “to working collaboratively with the Government of the Philippines to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.”

The embassy added that the relationship between the two countries “is built on strong people to people ties, common interest in strengthening political, economic and cultural relations, and in mutual commitment to peace” and is highly valued as the two countries celebrate their 70 years of diplomatic relations this year. — Marje Pelayo

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Over 700 live poisonous tarantulas seized at NAIA

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

Tarantula | Photos courtesy: BOC

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized parcels full of live poisonous tarantula at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Monday (April 1).

Around 757 live tarantulas, valued at P310,000, were intercepted by Customs agents at the Central Mail Exchange Center in Pasay City.

The tarantulas, classified as endangered wildlife species, were found concealed in “gift-wrapped oatmeal and cookies,” according to BOC district collector Carmelita Talusan.

“The shipment was sent from Poland by a certain Wojciech Pakasz and was consigned to Jesse Camaro, a resident of Caloocan,” she added.

BOC said that individuals involved in illegal wildlife trading may face imprisonment of at least one year and a fine of P20,000 to P200,000 based on Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Preservation Act.

Illegal wildlife traders may also face three to six years of imprisonment or a fine of not more than P300,000 under unlawful importation pursuant to Republic Act 10863 of the Customs Modernization Act.

The seized live tarantulas have been turned over by the BOC to the Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Tuesday (April 2).

BOC said that from 2018 up to present, they have already turned over to DENR “a total of 2,152 wildlife and endangered species including 250 geckos, 254 corals and other endangered reptiles which were apprehended thru air parcels, baggage and shipments.”

The bureau also recently intercepted 63 iguanas, chameleon and bearded dragons at the NAIA.

In March 2019, the agency gained global recognition for its anti-illegal trade efforts which led in the seizure of 1,529 turtles that were smuggled from Hong Kong.

BOC vowed to continue protecting the borders against importation and exportation of illegal wildlife trade and other prohibited and anti-social goods. – Robie de Guzman

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Fire hits BOC building in Manila

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

Fire hits the Bureau of Customs building in the Port of Manila | Photo credit: Philippine Red Cross

MANILA, Philippines — Flames engulfed the Bureau of Customs building at the Port of Manila on Friday night, February 22.

At least 30 firetrucks and several ambulances rushed to the site to battle the fire, according to BOC spokesperson, Erastus Austria.

“[We are] still determining [from] which office the fire originated,” Austria said in a series of messages sent to reporters.

“We are securing our personnel as of the moment,” he added.

The fire, which started around 9 p.m., reached fifth alarm past 10 p.m., according to the Bureau of Fire Protection Manila.

Thick smoke billowed and bright flames razed the top portion of the BOC building in Manila | Photo credit: Jirume Monta/BOC-PIO

Meanwhile, a lawmaker urged Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to conduct an in-depth investigation into the incident.

Misamis Oriental Second district Representative Juliet Uy, said in a statement that Año should assign the best arson investigators on the case to thoroughly and scientifically investigate the cause of the fire.

“Given the notoriety of the Bureau of Customs for graft and corruption, it is understandable for the public to be skeptical about the cause of fire that has razed the offices of the Bureau of Customs at the Manila Bay Port Area,” the statement read.

“Their investigation must be meticulous, thorough and scientific,” she added.

Uy, a member of the House Committee on Public Order and Safety, also expressed hope that the fire will cause only minimal disruptions in BOC operations, especially at the Port Area which involves the business sector and the flow of goods in and out of the Manila harbor.

“Perhaps some of the operations can be transferred to the Manila International Container Port,”she suggested. “Maybe, if necessary, some shipments can be diverted to the Subic Bay or Batangas Port,” she concluded.

DILG Sec. Año has yet to issue any comment on the matter. — Robie de Guzman

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