Six charged in attempt to smuggle P7.4M watches

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The Bureau of Customs has filed a smuggling-related case against six persons who allegedly attempting to sneak in 413 watches worth more than P7.4-million through balikbayan boxes.

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Charged before the Department of Justice were Zenaida Valencia, Jennifer Valencia, Edward Ochave, Clarisse Karingal, Genevieve Ochave and Edmund Discutido.

The case stemmed from the entry of six balikbayan boxes from Bahrain last August shipped on the same flight and on the same day through Forex U-Mac Bahrain and its counterpart, U-Mac Forex Cargo Philippines.

The boxe s were declared to contain personal effects such as shoes and clothing, beddings, groceries, candies and chocolates. Instead, Casio G-Shock watches were found inside.

Since 2001, the bureau has continually revamped its process for monitoring and inspecting balikbayan boxes after it was found that they were being used to smuggle illegal items such as car parts and accessories, goods for sale and regulated drugs.

Customs Commissioner John Sevilla said he hopes the arrest of the six will be a lesson to traders and sellers who illegally conceal items.

“While we recognize that the balikbayan box is vital to millions of overseas Filipinos and their families in the Philippines, we cannot allow the abuse and misuse of this privilege to bring in goods of commercial quantity or contraband items,” Sevilla said.

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