Home » Customs & Trade, Ports/Terminals » BOC-BIR regional anti-smuggling scheme moves forward

Philippine Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña has instructed district collectors of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to coordinate with counterpart regional directors in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in creating anti-smuggling units at the regional level.

The instruction, contained in a memorandum signed by Lapeña on November 3, came after Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III directed him to spearhead the creation of interagency task forces at the regional level to unify and beef up anti-smuggling operations in the provinces.

District collectors must submit a progress report with concrete plans of action to the Office of the Commissioner seven days after receiving the memorandum. BOC has a district collector for each of its 17 collection districts.

Dominguez in an earlier statement said the cooperation between sister agencies BOC and BIR and with other relevant government agencies should be brought down to the regional level to ensure that provincial operations against suspected illicit trading practices are well coordinated.

Dominguez wants the two revenue generators to strengthen their regional cooperation against smuggling, noting that most of the illicitly traded goods entering the country are sold outside Metro Manila.

The finance chief ordered the heads of the two agencies to focus specifically on rice, fuel, steel, cigarettes, and food and agricultural products such as chicken, onion, and garlic. This is Dominguez’s response to Lapeña’s earlier proposal to form a joint BOC-BIR task force, a move meant to revitalize the customs bureau’s anti-smuggling drive.

Strengthening anti-smuggling efforts is included in Lapeña’s five-point priority program for BOC. Other priorities include stopping corruption, increasing revenues, ensuring trade facilitation, and enhancing the incentives and rewards system and compensation benefits program for BOC personnel.

Recently, Lapeña issued Memorandum 2017-11-004, which aims to establish proper protocols in handling dangerous drugs (DD) and controlled precursors and essential chemicals (CPECs) within the jurisdiction of BOC.

The memorandum ordered that all suspected DD or CPECs discovered during the regular course of work at BOC be immediately reported to the Customs Anti-Illegal Drugs Task Force (CAIDTF) for proper coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which Lapeña used to head prior to moving to BOC.

“All shipments found to contain DD and/or CPECs within the jurisdiction of the BOC and intended for controlled delivery, the PDEA shall be the lead agency,” the memo said. PDEA is the lead anti-drug law enforcement agency in the country.

“To avoid glitch in drug operations, make way and let PDEA stand in front because when it comes to drugs, they know better,” the customs chief said.

The apprehending officer must follow the law stated in Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, Lapeña added.

PDEA is the agency responsible for filing criminal and civil cases related to violation of R.A. 9165, while BOC takes care of the filing of criminal and civil cases arising from violation of R.A. 10863, or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

“Ignorance of the law excuses no one. Let us follow the law and the proper protocol. However, let me also urge our BOC operatives to be always on tight guard so that we can suppress all drug importations right at the port of entry,” Lapeña said.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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