BOC boosting measures against smugglers, hoarders

  • The Bureau of Customs is set to unwrap “proactive measures” to add teeth to its campaign against smuggling and hoarding of agricultural products
  • Pre-arrival and post-arrival technical targeting and fraud detection mechanisms for imported goods will be enhanced
  • Collaboration and information sharing with local and international law enforcement and regulatory agencies will be intensified
  • The agency vows to expedite the prosecution of filed cases against suspected smugglers to increase the conviction rate as a deterrent against smuggling

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) will implement a series of “proactive measures” to bolster its efforts to curb smuggling and hoarding of agricultural products.

These measures include enhancing the pre-arrival and post-arrival technical targeting and fraud detection mechanisms for imported goods; and investing in additional equipment as well as providing personnel capacity building to further strengthen intelligence and enforcement capabilities.

Collaboration and information sharing with local and international law enforcement and regulatory agencies will also be strengthened, the agency said in a statement. These partners include the International Criminal Police Organization, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Philippine Coast Guard, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture, Department of Social Welfare and Development.

BOC said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s vow to go after smugglers and hoarders is the agency’s call to action.

“We stand fully supportive of the President’s directives and will collaborate closely in the investigation he has ordered,” BOC said.

In his second State of the Nation Address on July 24, Marcos took a swipe at smugglers and hoarders of agricultural products who manipulate prices, exacerbating an already high inflation rate.

“Hinahabol at ihahabla natin sila. Sadyang hindi tama ang kanilang gawain at hindi rin ito tugma sa ating magandang layunin. Pandaraya ang kanilang ginagawa. Napapahamak hindi lamang ang mga magsasaka, kundi tayo ring mga mamimili. Kaya hindi natin papayagan ang ganitong kalakaran. Bilang na ang mga araw ng mga smugglers at hoarders na ‘yan,” Marcos said.

(“We’re going after them and we’ll charge them. What they’re doing isn’t right and goes against our good intentions. They are cheaters. It’s not only the farmers who suffer, but we, the consumers, as well. That’s why we won’t allow this malpractice. The days of those smugglers and hoarders are numbered.”)

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BOC said it is committed to expediting the prosecution of cases lodged with the Department of Justice and Professional Regulation Commission. It will also “strive to increase the conviction rate of smugglers, to serve as a deterrent to others involved in such illicit activities.”

As of July 25, BOC had seized P30.1 billion worth of smuggled goods in 654 operations. The seized contraband includes various agricultural products valued at more than P2.9 billion.

To maintain the integrity of its processes, BOC said its Account Management Office (AMO) had processed the accreditation of 7,733 importers and 1,263 customs brokers from January 1 to July 25, 2023. AMO has also revoked the accreditation of 95 importers and 36 customs brokers for violating customs laws, rules, and regulations.

BOC said internal accountability “is of paramount importance to us.”

From January 1 to July 25, BOC issued seven show-cause orders against erring personnel while placing 66 other employees under investigation by the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service.

BOC said it “remains committed to protecting the integrity of our borders, ensuring compliance with customs laws, and fostering a secure environment for the nation’s economic growth.”

“We will work diligently to implement these measures and collaborate with relevant stakeholders to achieve our common goal of eradicating smuggling and hoarding of agricultural products,” it added.