Customs seizes P545 million smuggled goods in Q3

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs  confiscated more than P545 million worth of smuggled crops as of end-September, as well as filed cases against dozens of importers and brokers as part of efforts to improve border security.

The BOC seized a total of P545.06 million in agricultural products, mostly rice, onion and garlic, from   operations it conducted from January to September.

Only three commodities accounted for nearly 83 percent of the value at P452.28 million, namely, rice (P206.8 million), onion (P190.48 million) and garlic (P55 million).

The BOC filed 14 lawsuits before the Department of Justice in a bid to punish 41 individuals involved in the smuggling of farm goods. The agency said these importers and brokers tried to smuggled P85.2 million worth  of agricultural products into the domestic market.

Also, the BOC filed 10 administrative cases before the Professional Regulation Commission against brokers who arranged for the entry of the smuggled crops. The suspects were sued for violating import rules and regulations, particularly the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.

The agency tasked to man the ports also cancelled the accreditation of two registered importers and suspended 23 others for receiving warrants of seizure and detention.

Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said the BOC would intensify its measures against the smuggling of farm goods to make sure only legal imports reach the markets.

The Customs seized about P20 billion worth of smuggled imports in the eight months to August, of which agricultural products comprised the fifth largest share next to counterfeits, illegal drugs, illicit cigarettes and contraband merchandise.

Last year, the Customs confiscated P10.62 billion worth of   smuggled items as a result of  997 raids it initiated. From this, the agency apprehended P284.62 million worth of illegally imported farm products.

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