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The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has filed three smuggling cases against importers, customs brokers, and customs personnel for misdeclaration and illegal importation of gun parts and ammunition.

The first criminal case was filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on October 18 against ASD Total Package Enterprises president Ariel Sagun De Mesa and customs broker Michael Miranda Sumile for reportedly importing P1.2 million worth of misdeclared red onions at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) last September.

The eight ASD shipments arrived at MICP on August 14 and were declared to contain 20,000 cartons of fresh apples. Upon inspection, MICP authorities found bags of red onions behind the boxes of apples.

De Mesa and Sumile were charged with violating Section 1401 (Unlawful Importation or Exportation) in relation to Sections 1400 (Misdeclaration, Misclassification, Undervaluation in Goods Declaration) and 117 (Regulated Importation and Exportation) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), Section 3 (Large-Scale Agricultural Smuggling as Economic Sabotage) of Republic Act 10845 or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, and Article 172 (falsification by private individual and use of falsified documents) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

Several other shipments of ASD Total Package had been seized by BOC in the previous months as those also hid onions that were misdeclared as apples to evade paying the correct duties and taxes. Apples have zero tariff while onions are imposed a 35% tariff.

The second smuggling case was filed against Gregorio Dela Cruz, June Navarro, and Hilario Vicencio for the alleged illegal importation of gun parts and ammunition estimated to be worth P1 million. The respondents face charges of violating Sections 1401 and Section 119 (Restricted Importation, and Exportation) of the CMTA, in relation to Sections 28 (g) and 33 of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

The third smuggling case was filed against D3S Trading proprietor Del A. Salumbre and customs broker Ma. Theresa B. Santos for supposedly importing misdeclared forklift, 18 drums of glycerol chemicals, cellular phones, motorcycles parts and accessories, laptop, computer mother boards, and computer components and accessories. The shipment had an estimated value of P1.5 million.

The consignee and the customs broker violated Section 1400 and Section 1401 of the CMTA in relation to Article 172 (falsification by public officer, employee or notary or ecclesiastic minister) in relation to Article 171 of the RPC, said BOC.

Meanwhile, employees of BOC who reportedly connived with D3S Trading were also charged. Customs examiner Fe M. Serna, Office of the Commissioner representative Manuel Yapan Jr., Office of the District Collector representative Gerardo Porbile, and principal appraiser Danilo Rigor are facing charges for violating Section 1431 (Statutory Offenses of Officers and Employees) of the CMTA and Article 171 of the RPC.

Since August 30, 2017, BOC has filed 71 criminal complaints against erring importers, brokers, and customs personnel before the DOJ.

“Our legal division is relentless in filing cases against illicit traders who continue to defy customs laws. Our intensified campaign against illicit trade sends a clear message that we are serious in putting an end to smuggling and we will not tolerate such blatant disregard of our customs laws, rules, and regulations,” Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said in a statement.

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