THE Bureau of Customs (B0C) is not lowering its guard down amid insinuations that the leadership has given the go-signal to the “everything goes policy” for the remaining five months of the Aquino admin-istration, primarily for purposes of raising funds for the administration candidates in the May 2016 elec-tions.
“Our bureau’s anti-smuggling drive, as shown by the exemplary and strengthened teamwork exhibit-ed by our intelligence and enforcement groups with our new district collectors, should serve as a re-minder to smugglers that illicit trade in the bureau will be prosecuted in accordance with the law. It’s no longer business as usual. The bureau is working with various government agencies to make sure smuggling is addressed with an iron hand,” Commissioner Alberto Lina on Friday said.
Lina issued the warning after seizure of 118 containers of illegally imported Thai rice at the Manila In-ternational Container Port (MICP) worth at least P118 million.
He ordered immediate investigation to identify personalities involved in the illegal importation.
MICP Collector Antonio Pascual and MICP Auction Division chief Gerardo Macatangay also immediately recommended auction proceedings in order to preserve the value and quality of the confiscated rice and contribute to the revenues of the government.
Records showed that the shipment was consigned to Calumpit Multi-Purpose Cooperative.
The cargo, which arrived at the MICP from Thailand on separate occasions in November and Decem-ber, was immediately seized for violation of Section 2530 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philip-pines, as amended, by Republic Act 7651 and for lack of required import permit from the National Food Authority (NFA).
Verifications made through the NFA confirmed that no import permit has been issued to the consign-ee.
A representative of the consignee wrote to the district collector of the MICP, saying the import permit for shipment was already being processed for its release but the same was refuted by the NFA.
Earlier, the BoC also filed charges before the Justice department against two consignees for illegal im-portations of various items such as smartphones and tablets and an undetermined number of used semi- knockdown Honda Fit vehicles.
The goods were declared as casing thermos and gift boxes but were found to contain assorted brands of mobile phones, smart phones, tablets and touch screen phones, with total value of P4.2 million.
The other shipment was declared as used truck parts but was found to contain undetermined units of used semi-knockdown Honda Fit motor vehicles worth more than P500,000.
Charged for violation of customs and telecommunication laws were slapped on Ritchie Montaba, pro-prietor of Uranus and consignee of the seized gadgets, vehicle parts consignee Eil Bryan Oraiz, manag-er of Hanabana Trading Ltd. Co.; and several other John and Jane Does.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL