BARELY a week in office, Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena wasted no time in enforcing his promise to rid the Bureau of Customs (BOC) of corruption as his men seized two luxury cars misdeclared as auto parts worth P10 million.
“I commend all the BOC personnel instrumental in the apprehension of these luxury cars. I call on you to always safeguard our ports from all forms of smuggling,” Lapeña said after inspecting the vehicles.
Lapeña replaced resigned Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon amid allegations of corruption.
The shipment, with entry number C-206595-17, arrived last at the Manila International Container Pirt (MICP) from Hongkong. It was consigned to Juljerjac Trading.
MICP Collector Vincent Philip Maronilla said the shipment was seized for violation of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) in relation to Section 3 of Executive Order 156 prohibiting the importation of used motor vehicles.
“This is a prima facie evidence of misdeclaration. We will issue a warrant of seizure and detention against smuggled motor vehicles,” he said.
The cars are now in the custody of the MICP for further examination and evaluation.
The BOC has been under fire over allegations of corruption, highlighted by the P6.4 billion worth of “shabu” shipment that passed through Customs staff unchecked.
The discovery of the illegal cargo during a raid on a warehouse in Valenzuela after prompted a congressional inquiry that eventually led to the resignation of Faeldon.
The ongoing investigation at the Senate will resume on Thursday with President Rodrigo Duterte’s son, Davao Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte; and son-in-law, Manases Carpio, accepting the invitation to appear before the blue ribbon committee to shed light on allegations that they are part of the so-called “Davao group” that facilitated the release of shipments at the BOC.
Lapena himself admitted that 70 percent of illegal drugs slip past Customs based, he said, on information from nationwide monitoring when he was director general of the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA).