Importers slapped with undervaluation, agri smuggling charges

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Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña (center) with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II (right) at the press conference after the filing of smuggling charges against two importers. With them are the Bureau’s Action Team Against Smugglers executive director Atty Yasser Abbas (leftmost) and deputy commissioner Gladys Rosales. Photo courtesy of Bureau of Customs.
Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña (center) with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II (right) at the press conference after the filing of smuggling charges against two importers. With them are the Bureau’s Action Team Against Smugglers executive director Atty Yasser Abbas (leftmost) and deputy commissioner Gladys Rosales. Photo courtesy of Bureau of Customs.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) filed charges before the Department of Justice against importers and customs brokers for alleged gross undervaluation of imports and for large-scale agricultural smuggling.

Charged separately on March 26 by the Bureau’s Action Team Against Smugglers (BATAS) were the owner and customs broker of Granstar Premiere Sports Corporation and those of Seven Myth Marketing.

The first shipment, which went through the Port of Subic, was of Vespa scooters whose dutiable value reflected a discrepancy of 87%.

The second shipment, through the Port of Cebu, was misdeclared as ceramic tiles but largely contained rice. With a value of over P10 million, the shipment’s consignee and broker were slapped with a charge of economic sabotage for large-scale agricultural smuggling under Republic Act No. 10845 (Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016).

The first smuggling complaint involves Granstar’s shipments of 112 brand-new Vespa scooters which originated from Singapore and arrived at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in 2014.

Charges were filed against Granstar’s owner and major stockholder Fabian A. Go with office address at Lot 71 Unit B1, Innovative St., Subic Bay, Gateway Park, Phase 1, Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

The same charges were filed against customs broker Norinel O. Quezana, who processed the importation of Granstar.

“The importer and the customs broker have violated sections 2503 (Undervaluation, Misclassification, Misdeclaration in Entry), 3602 (Various Fraudulent Practices against Customs Revenue), 3601 (Unlawful Importation) of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP), and article 172 (Falsification by Private Individuals and Use of Falsified Documents) of the Revised Penal Code,” Customs chief Isidro Lapeña said in a statement.

Granstar’s shipments arrived in Subic on January 22, 2014 but entries were filed only by September 2014.

The shipments were issued an alert on February 10, 2015 due to alleged gross undervaluation of imports. A warrant of seizure and detention (WSD) was issued on February 16, 2015 by then district collector Arnulfo Marcos of the Port of Subic.

According to the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) operatives who examined the containers on September 17, 2014, the US$50,400 or P2.504 million in total declared value of the imported goods was considerably lower compared to the $3,448.24 in actual value of each unit of the goods.

Based on BATAS’ complaint-affidavit, the declared value of the shipments plus duties and taxes amounted to only P3.648 million, but based on the value provided by BOC’s Import Assessment Service on January 26, 2015, the actual dutiable value of the shipments plus duties and taxes amounted to P28.297 million.

“Proceedings followed and finally on July 28, 2017, the Port’s District Collector ordered the forfeiture of the subject shipment,” BATAS executive director Atty. Yasser Ismail Abbas said.

Cebu shipment

The second smuggling charge involves shipments from China consigned to Seven Myth Marketing, the goods arriving at the Port of Cebu on November 27 and November 29, 2017.

Charged were Leoncio Victor S. Mangubat, the registered owner of Seven Myth Marketing, with office address at Room 01 1202-D Palanca Compound, Gen. Luna St., Brgy. 674, Ermita, Manila; and customs broker Mary Faith D. Miro, with office address at Roosevelt St., Tulic, Argao, Cebu.

The consignee declared the shipments as ceramic tiles but were instead found to be 7,150 sacks of 50-kilogram Sinandomeng Aguila and Sinandomeng Mayon rice with estimated duties and taxes of P10.014 million.

Of the 15 containers imported, only one was found on examination to actually hold ceramic tiles.

The shipments got the alert on December 7, 2017 based on derogatory information received by BOC and were seized on December 13, 2017.

Seven Myth was charged with violation of Section 1400 (Misdeclaration, Misclassification, Undervaluation in Good Declaration), in relation to Section 1401 (Unlawful Importation or Exportation) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), and Article 172 in relation to Article 171 (Falsification by Private Individuals and Use of Falsified Documents) of the Revised Penal Code.

“We will make sure that importers and brokers blatantly violating Customs rules and regulations will face legal action and revocation of Customs accreditation. I have given BATAS Executive Director Lawyer Yasser Ismail Abbas strict instructions to go hard on smugglers and intensify the filing of cases against them, big or small,” Lapeña said.