CUSTOMS Commissioner Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon has launched his promised crackdown on smugglers, purging the list of brokers and importers accredited by the bureau.
“I already ordered the purging of the list and there were some that were already delisted, but there’s still a lot more to be done,” Biazon said in a radio interview.
A Customs source on Sunday identified some of the big players who used dummy companies accredited by Customs as a certain Tina Uy, David Tong, Jeff Kong, Manuel de los Santos, Windy de los Santos, Jerome Teves, Daniel Teves, Julius Logarta, Gerlyn Perez, Arturo Ayatde and a certain Sarayot.
These brokers, the source said, put up dummy companies and were being protected by ranking Customs officials.
Uy, the source said, is dubbed as the “resin queen” because she owns almost all shipments of resin that go through Customs, particularly at the Manila International Container Port.
Ayatde controls the bulk of illegal rice shipments while Reyes is reportedly into oil smuggling, which is usually done in the ports of Batangas and sub-port of Limay in Bataan.
The others, the source added, are into general merchandise, electronics, food stuffs and rice and sugar smuggling.
Rice and sugar are always misdeclared because these are prohibited importations. Resin is either misdeclared or undervalued, depending on its quality.
The accreditation of brokers is handled by the Interim Customs Accreditation Registration unit (ICARE) headed by l Rhea Gregorio.
ICARE personnel must check the office and address of brokers and importers and have them photographed for documentation purposes.
But Customs insiders said that sometimes, brokers and importers provide fake addresses.
Biazon warned that ICARE personnel found conniving with smugglers will be punished severely.
There have been allegations that some ICARE personne delayed the processing of applications for accreditation to shake down legitimate firms.
But Gregorio denied the charges, saying they have stepped on some toes in doing their job.
Gregorio said ICARE has made significant headway in cleansing the list of accredited importers and brokers, making it easier for Customs operatives to run after big smugglers.
She said ICARE has delisted 39 rice importers as of February 20, bringing to 170 the total number of importers and brokers removed from their list, the highest in the bureau’s history.
Parties and entities that import goods more than once a year are required to get accreditation from ICARE by submitting pertinent documents including income tax returns, certificate of registration from the Securities and Exchange Commission, mayor’s and barangay permits. An importer without accreditation must pay from P1,000 to P5,000 per day while their container is withheld by Customs.
The Department of Finance estimates that P200 billion is lost yearly to smuggling.
During the administration of President Joseph Estrada, Malacañang came out with a list of major smugglers.
In the list were Lucio Co, Johnny Sy, Robert Uy, Ruel Tolentino, Blandino Tolentino, Jun Manimtim, Zeny Dayanghirang, Jovy Castillo, Jojo Agana, Edwin Santos, a certain Bombit, Lina Flores and Jenny Chua.