Home » Customs & Trade, Press Releases » Joint BOC-PCG patrol ramps up vessel inspections

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The Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) boarded five foreign vessels of interest (VOI) under their recent agreement to ramp up joint patrols of the country’s territorial waters against suspicious activities.

The heightened border patrol operations follow last month’s signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the two agencies to intensify joint efforts to foil smuggling activities within the country’s waters. Under the MOA, the PCG commits to provide manpower that will operate the 20 fast boats BOC purchased as part of enhanced border security and law enforcement efforts.

READ: Coast Guard to help man BOC patrol boats

Prior to this, BOC had signed a MOA with PCG last July renewing their partnership in intelligence sharing and joint operations in boarding and inspecting VOIs in Philippine territory.

Under the law, BOC and PCG are authorized to board, inspect, search, and examine all types of merchant ships and watercraft and any container, trunk, package, box, or envelope found on board. They are also empowered to physically search and examine any person aboard ships within the Philippine customs territory and maritime jurisdiction.

The joint inspections seek to verify VOIs’ completeness of records, safety compliance, cargoes, and other pertinent documents relative to its voyage.

BOC noted that inspection of the five VOIs found no discrepancies and confirmed that the vessels’ deviations were caused by delays in schedule, delays in approval of crew change, port congestion, or force majeure.

BOC in a statement said the partnership has been renewed amid observations that some vessels entering Philippine territorial waters suddenly change destination and unload cargo, in the process intentionally shutting down their identification system to avoid detection.

Some foreign vessels also become VOIs after deviating from their original navigational path and voyaging far from their normal course of operations.

The customs bureau said it recognizes “the continuing challenge of preventing smuggling that may be perpetrated by the VOIs in our country either by shipside discharge, casting overboard of goods and merchandise of any kind, or any form of pure smuggling operations.”

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