About P53 million worth of cigarettes declared as tissue paper were among a total of P2.2 billion in smuggled products seized in various ports from May 28 to July 15, according to the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, BOC said that among the seized items was a shipment of cigarettes worth an estimated P53 million and snuck into the country from China through a suspected new smuggling scheme.
The shipment confiscated last July 12 in the Port of Davao had originated from Ningbo, China. Contained in two 20-foot containers, it was declared by its consignee, Golden Aark Enterprise, as tissue paper.
The shipment first entered the country through Mindanao Container Terminal in Misamis Oriental, where it was first declared as containing tissue paper and bound for the Port of Davao.
But when the cargo reached its final destination, the containers of smuggled cigarettes were not included in the inward foreign manifest despite other customs documents proving they existed.
BOC and Philippine Coast Guard personnel boarded the vessel and determined that the containers were on board and destined for Port of Davao.
This discrepancy, along with information received by BOC’s Intelligence Group, led customs officials to seize the shipment at the Port of Davao.
Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero has ordered the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service to investigate the new modus operandi of smuggling cigarettes into the country.
He said the accreditation of Golden Aark has already been revoked; appropriate charges will be filed against the firm and its cohorts.
“From said circumstances, there is prima facie evidence that the carrier, SITC Container Lines Philippines, Incorporated, is abetting the consignee in concealing/smuggling the seized contraband in violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 10863 (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act),” Guerrero added.
Meanwhile, BOC has also confiscated P244 million worth of smuggled, unregistered or counterfeit personal protective equipment and other medical supplies from March 25 up to May 31, 2020, part of its ongoing efforts to stop the illegal importation, storage, and hoarding of goods essential in the fight against the coronavirus disease.