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BOC foils attempts to turn Zambo as smugglers’ ‘haven’

Double-digit surplus collection for January 2023 noted

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THE Bureau of Customs has repeatedly foiled the attempt by smuggling syndicates of agricultural products to turn the Zamboanga area in Mindanao as their own ‘haven,’ seizing several shipments of smuggled onions and petroleum products in a space of a single week as it started its anti-smuggling campaign for the year on a high note.

District Collector Atty. Segundo Sigmundfreud Z. Barte, Jr., in a report to Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz, said that last January 22, 2023, the BOC, in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, intercepted, on two separate operations, P9.49 million worth of imported fresh red onions on board two watercrafts at the coastal areas of Bgy. Labuan.

The first vessel, a motorized wooden watercraft ‘TIMZZAN,’ was found to contain 1,624 mesh bags of imported fresh red onions valued at around P2.6 million.

A follow-up operation the next day in Varadero de Cawit, Bgy. Cawit, also resulted to the confiscation of 4,308 mesh bags of imported fresh red onions worth P6.9 million found onboard the ‘MJ MARISSA.’

Also on January 23, and in close coordination with the Naval Forces Western Mindanao of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the BOC seized on two operations red onions totaling 44 metric tons placed on mesh bags weighing 4 kilos a piece.

The first operation took place in Varadero de Cawit, Bgy. Cawit, Zamboanga City when the operatives flagged down an ISUZU closed van loaded with some 3,000 bags of smuggled onions.

Separately, another 8,000 bags of smuggled red onions were also seized on board the ‘MJ Marissa’ by the operatives.

Another watercraft, the ‘ML ZHARY,’ was found loaded with more or less 300 drums of smuggled petroleum, oil, and lubricant (POL) products after being boarded by members of the joint task force.

Two days later, on January 25, Barte informed the customs chief that yet another attempt to smuggle in P18.6 million worth of smuggled onions on board a vessel in Bgy. Ayala.

Joint operatives from the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Cagayan de Oro, inspecting a shipment of smuggled cigarettes at the Mindanao Container Port valued at more than P160 million, January 18, 2022 (photo credit: BOC-PIAD).

Through the Water Patrol Division, the POZ intercepted 5,611 mesh bags of imported red onions with an estimated market value of P8.5 million and 2,249 mesh bags of imported white onions valued at P10.1 million during a maritime patrol operation.

The smuggled goods were found on board the ‘MV Princess Nurdisza,’ which allegedly came from Taganak, Tawi-Tawi bound for Brgy. Baliwasan.

Barte, Jr. reported the latest apprehension is the third successful seizure of imported onions for the week by his collection district.

In a separate anti-smuggling operation at the Port of Cagayan de Oro, the BOC announced the confiscation of two containers of cigarettes worth P160 million after a spot-check examination at the Mindanao Container Terminal Port, PHIVIDEC Compound, Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental on January 18. The shipment arrived on December 16, 2022, from China and was declared as containing “personal effects.”

However, the spot check yielded 2,000 master cases of ‘New Berlin’ cigarettes.

District Collector Alexandra Yap-Lumontad informed Ruiz that she immediately issued a Pre-Lodgement Control Order (PLCO) against the shipment after being alerted for possible violation of R.A. 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

She added that a seizure order was also subsequently issued against the shipment.

BOC registers ‘DD’ surplus for January

Meanwhile, the BOC is also off to a good start in its other mission of collecting revenues for the government after posting a double-digit surplus collection for the month of January.

As of January 27, 2023, official data showed the agency had already surpassed by 11.9 percent, or by more than P6.98 billion, its collection target of P58.822 billion for the month after actually collecting P65.801 billion.

The figure is also 13.1 percent higher, or P7.627 billion more than its actual collection for the same month last year amounting to P58.174 billion.

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