BOC seizes P702M smuggled agri products from Jan to Aug

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BOC seizes P702M smuggled agri products from Jan to Aug
Photo from Bureau of Customs.
  • The Bureau of Customs seized P701.82 million worth of smuggled agricultural products from January to August 7, 2022
  • 25 criminal cases were filed by BOC before the Department of Justice against 71 importers, exporters, and customs brokers for unlawful import and exports of agricultural goods

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has seized P701.82 million worth of smuggled agricultural products in 66 seizure operations from January to August 7, 2022.

BOC also filed 25 criminal cases before the Department of Justice against 71 individuals comprising importers, exporters, and customs brokers for unlawful importation and exportation of agricultural products with a total dutiable value of P186.98 million, two duties and taxes amounting to P76 million.

In addition, BOC is conducting administrative investigations against BOC officials and personnel allegedly involved in illegal activities, acting Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz said in a press conference on August 10.

The agency is also coordinating with the Department of Agriculture (DA) on enhanced inter-agency data exchange to validate agricultural shipments and strengthen derogatory and intelligence information coordination.

Coordination will cover establishment of first border inspection facilities, or agricultural commodity examination areas (ACEA), where imported animals, plants, meat, and other farm and fishery products will be inspected.

DA in earlier statements said it would establish the facilities at the Manila International Container Terminal, Batangas, Cebu, Davao, Manila South Harbor, and Subic.

Last year, DA and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority agreed in principle to establish the country’s first integrated Cold Examination Facility in Agriculture (CEFA) in Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales.

BOC also implements the mandatory inspection of all reefer containers before their transfer to the DA-accredited cold storage facility. The agency’s Electronic Tracking of Containerized Cargo System is also in effect to ensure safe transit and transfer of agricultural goods.

Ruiz recently met with the League of Associations of La Trinidad Vegetables Trading Posts to discuss measures to suppress the incidence of smuggled agri products.

United Sugar Producers Federation, the biggest sugar organization in the country, also assured support for BOC in addressing sugar smuggling.

“We are resolute in the fight to curtail agricultural smuggling in the country to ensure an optimum level of food safety for Filipino consumers,” Ruiz said.

He noted that curbing smuggled agri products to protect local farmers is one of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s marching orders to BOC.

Asked if BOC would recommend the filing of charges against former customs and agriculture officials who are on a Senate list of persons allegedly involved in agricultural smuggling, Ruiz said the agency would do so if investigators find evidence prosecute them. “We will leave no guilty person unpunished,” he said.