Customs seized P9.75B worth of smuggled goods in 2020

Robie de Guzman   •   January 19, 2021   •   1752

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has confiscated an estimated P9.746 billion-worth of smuggled goods in 2020, the Department of Finance (DOF) said on Tuesday.

Citing a report submitted by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the DOF said the Customs bureau seized smuggled cigarettes and other tobacco products in 150 out of 792 operations it conducted in the country’s ports last year.

“For the anti-smuggling effort of the BOC, the consolidated estimated value of seized shipments last year is P9.746 billion, of which P5.217 billion are from seizures of cigarettes and tobacco, P1.85 billion are from drugs seizure and P1.02 billion from counterfeit items,” Guerrero told Dominguez during a recent Executive Committee meeting.

The confiscated tobacco products made up 53.5 percent of the total amount of goods seized by the BOC during this period, Guerrero said.

Aside from tobacco products and illegal drugs, the BOC also seized P32.59 million-worth of various types of currencies from January to December 2020.

General merchandise worth P403.89 million, vehicles and automobile accessories valued at P354.53 million, and agricultural products amounting to about P207.7 million were also apprehended by the BOC, Guerrero said.

The BOC also seized personal protective equipment (PPEs), medical supplies and cosmetics worth P195.57 million; jewelry and other products, P69 million; foodstuff, P212 million; used clothing, P130.59 million; electronics goods, P31.07 million; steel products, P4.76 million; alcoholic beverages, P2.43 million; chemicals, P5 million; and firearms, P300,000.

From Jan. 1 to Dec. 28 last year, Guerrero said the BOC filed 74 criminal complaints before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against 268 respondents suspected of smuggling, and another 52 administrative cases before the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

As of Dec. 4, 2020, the BOC also ordered the closure of 20 customs-bonded warehouses (CBWs) and 40 members of customs common bonded warehouses (CCBWs) for various violations, Guerrero said.

“In 2020, the BOC already completed the inspection and investigation of a total of 150 Customs Bonded Warehouses and 247 Members of CCBWs,” Guerrero said.

Dominguez previously ordered the BOC and Bureau of Internal Revenue to intensify their respective operations against smugglers and tax evaders despite the mobility restrictions triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

P30 million worth of fake flu meds seized in warehouses in Parañaque – BOC

Robie de Guzman   •   January 12, 2022

Counterfeit of popular medicine brands worth at least P30 million were confiscated at two storage areas in Parañaque City, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.

In a statement, the BOC said an operation launched on January 5, 2022 yielded the seizure of counterfeit medicines such as Biogesic, Neozep, Bioflu, Immunpro, Ivermectin, Phenokinon F Injection, Medicol, Planax, Alaxan FR, MX3 and others.

Customs said that certification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Unilab Pharmaceuticals, the makers of paracetamol brand Biogesic, stated that the said medicines were counterfeit.

The operation was conducted by the BOC with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Intelligence Service Armed Forces Of the Philippines (ISAFP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

“We received reports about the presence of counterfeit items. It’s not just items, but medicines. We acted on this immediately because this can pose a health threat. They are selling these to unsuspecting people whose only hope is to buy authentic medicines for themselves and their loved ones,” said Raniel Ramiro, Customs Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence Group.

The BOC said the counterfeit medicines were packed in cartons with tags bearing foreign characters. They were found in two storages at 7434B and 7434C Highland St., Marcelo Green Village and 27 Pearl St., Severina Subdivision, Km 18, Brgy. Marcelo, both in Paranaque City.

The seized items were immediately hauled to the BOC premises, though the inspection and inventory are still ongoing.

The team, composed of members of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service at the Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP), PDEA-IIS, NICA, ISAFP and the PCG, nabbed the suspect identified as Adel Rajput, a 31-year old Pakistani national, a resident of Caloocan City.

The BOC said the suspect was brought to the Paranaque City Prosecutors’ Office for an inquest.

He will face various cases for violation of Sec. 1401 (Unlawful Importation/Exportation), Sec. 1113 (Property Subject to Seizure and Forfeiture) paragraph (l) (5) in relation to Sec. 118 (Prohibited Importation and Exportation) paragraph (e) of the CMTA, and the violation of Republic Act No. 8293 (Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines and its Pertinent Rules and Regulations).

“His visa will be under a revocation process by the Bureau of Immigration,” Customs said.

Last November 24, 2021, BOC said it also confiscated fake medicines bearing names of popular brands such as Alaxan, Tuseran Forte, Propan, and Diatabs with an estimated value of P50 million from a warehouse in Pasig City.

Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero lamented how these businesses are operating during this time when the public is facing difficulties in purchasing anti-flu medicines amid the surge in COVID-19.

“It is sad how these criminals are using the pandemic for their own gain, especially when it comes to medicines. These are medicines that people thought will relieve them of their pain, their conditions. It is unforgivable that these individuals are using people’s desperation to earn money,” he said.

The Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry earlier assured that there was no shortage in supply of some medicine brands, and that pharmacies only experienced temporary stockout due to “overwhelming demand.”

BOC-NAIA halts illegal trade of bearded dragon, tegu lizards declared as children’s toys

Maris Federez   •   January 5, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs Port of NAIA on Wednesday (January 5) announced the seizure of two (2) parcels containing 22 bearded dragons and 6 Argentine black and white lizards from Samutprakarn, Thailand, in the BOC NAIA Central Mail Exchange Center (CMEC), Pasay City.

In a statement, the BOC reported that it conducted the seizure of the said wildlife, which has an estimated market value of P210,000, in December 2021.

The Customs bureau said that both parcels, declared as “children’s toys”, were shipped by a certain ‘Anuphop Wilit’ and were sent to certain individuals allegedly addressed in Paranaque City.

Customs-NAIA personnel subjected the parcels to x-ray and 100% physical examination which led to the discovery of live bearded dragons and tegus.

Said parcel shipments were subjected to seizure and forfeiture proceedings for violation of Section 1113 of RA 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act in relation to Section 117 and RA 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, the statement said.

The seized lizards were immediately turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Wildlife Monitoring Unit for proper handling and safekeeping pursuant to Customs Administrative Order No. 10-2020.

DOF orders 24/7 processing of tax exemptions for donations to typhoon victims

Robie de Guzman   •   December 23, 2021

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has ordered the quick and round-the-clock processing of applications for tax and duty exemptions of donations to communities devastated by Typhoon “Odette,” the Department of Finance (DOF) said Thursday.

In a statement, the DOF said this is in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive on expediting relief and rehabilitation efforts in the disaster-hit areas.

The DOF said Dominguez informed the president in a letter dated Dec. 21, 2021, of the department’s readiness to quickly process applications on the grant of these tax and duty exemptions for imported goods to be donated for “Odette” victims.

“Upon the request of Undersecretary Antonette Tionko, Dominguez tasked several officials and personnel of the Revenue Office (RO) of the DOF to be deployed and work in shifts on a 24-hour period to speed up the processing of Tax Exemption Indorsements (TEIs) and the quick release of importations of donated relief consignments expected to come from various foreign governments and international organizations or institutions,” it said.

Tionko heads the DOF’s Revenue Operations Group (ROG), the DOF said.

Dominguez also approved the request to disseminate to the Office of the President and the public the guidelines and requirements on the issuance of TEIs as provided under Section 121 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

Tionko said she made these requests “pending the issuance of the proclamation by the President declaring a state of national calamity because of Typhoon “Odette” and “in compliance with the President’s call to expedite the delivery of relief and rehabilitation efforts.”

Duterte declared on Dec. 21 a state of calamity in six typhoon-battered areas, including Regions 4B (Mimaropa–Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), 6 (Western Visayas), 7 (Central Visayas), 8 (Eastern Visayas), 10 (Northern Mindanao) and 13 (Caraga).

 The finance department said appropriate government agencies such as the Departments of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and of Health (DOH), and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) may apply for TEIs that grant tax and duty exemptions to importations under Relief Consignment in the Bureau of Customs.

The local government units, as well as private or non-government organizations duly registered, licensed, or accredited by the appropriate government agencies may also apply for TEIs.

“Relief consignments include food, medicine, equipment and materials for shelter, vehicles and other means of transport that are donated or leased to government institutions and accredited private entities, for free distribution to the affected population or for use during relief and rescue operations in disaster-affected areas,” the DOF said.

The department said the application process for tax and duty exemptions has been made easier by shifting the registration process online at https://teslite.dof.gov.ph.

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