Home » Customs & Trade » Private group, government ink deal to combat smuggling

AN influential business group forged an agreement with government to help battle smuggling at last Friday's 1st Anti-Smuggling Summit at the InterContinental Manila in Makati City.

The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), one of the organizers of the anti-smuggling summit, signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to work hand in hand to reduce, if not eliminate, smuggling in the country.

Smuggling costs government P127 billion in foregone revenues every year.

Under the agreement, FPI's legal team will assist BOC and DOJ to monitor, build up and prosecute smuggling cases.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, a former Customs commissioner, noted the need for political will in curbing smuggling. "We have to instill fear and deprive smugglers of their profits. To stop smuggling, we have to send people to jail and send the message to the government is committed to this cause," he said in a keynote speech.

FPI also reiterated a nine-point anti-smuggling agenda earlier presented to BoC, including the revival of BOC's voluntary disclosure program which allows importers to correct inadvertent mistakes and pay correct duties and taxes without penalty; tapping a third party to conduct audit on all import transactions; requiring all importers to use ports near places of business for better monitoring; creation of special courts for smuggling cases; publication of all tariff rates in the BOC website; and destruction of all seized goods except for agricultural and food products fit for human consumption for donation to charity.

Customs commissioner Angelito Alvarez promised to talk officials of the Department of Finance to discuss FPI's proposals. No other details were given.

Alvarez said the BOC has so far filed 12 cases against smugglers and has P34 billion worth of claims.

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