MANILA – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Saturday said it has intercepted over PHP221 million worth of smuggled cigarettes in the past few days in three ports in the country.
BOC spokesperson Vincent Philip Maronilla said these shipments are on high priority after it has been noted as one of the most smuggled items not only in the country but also in the world.
“That’s high on our priority. Cigarettes have gone up as one of the most smuggled items not just in the Philippines but globally. For us, we focused on these items and others whose duties and taxes were increased because of the Tax Reform Law,” Maronilla said in a text message.
This came after the apprehension of smuggled fake cigarettes estimated to be worth PHP36 million at the Port of Manila (POM) on Friday.
In coordination with the BOC Intelligence Group (IG), the port apprehended one 40-footer container declared as cable connectors but suspected to contain undeclared tobacco. The shipment arrived on August 25.
Subsequently, the derogatory information received from IG led to the issuance of a Pre-Lodgement Control Order (PLCO) on August 27 before lodgement of the said shipment consigned to Trendlink Home Source, Inc.
The container was physically examined and yielded misdeclaration of goods after they found approximately 800 master cases of fake Fortune and Marlboro branded cigarettes.
Based on the initial testing conducted by the representative of Philip Morris Philippines, the samples obtained from the seized items were not produced locally by or with permission of Philip Morris International, and are therefore counterfeit.
District collector Michael Angelo Vargas ordered the issuance of a warrant of seizure and detention against the entire shipment for violation of Section 1400 “Misdeclaration, Misclassification, and Undervaluation in Goods Declaration” in relation to Section 1113 “Property Subject Seizure and Forfeiture” of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
Another shipment of misdeclared cigarettes worth PHP64.4 million was intercepted at the Port of Batangas on August 27.
The container which was said to contain plastic cabinets but housed 1,631 master boxes of Mighty and Marvel cigarettes upon physical examination arrived at the said port from Guangdong, China on August 20.
Acting district collector Rhea Gregorio recommended the issuance of a warrant of seizure and detention against the entire shipment in violation of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
On the other hand, the Port of Subic intercepted containers of cigarettes estimated to be worth PHP121 million last week.
The containers arrived at the Port of Subic last August 22 from China and Hong Kong and said to contain Frozen Cinnamon Bread, Frozen Pineapple Pocket Bread, Snake and Ladder Board Games, Dominos Board Games and Rubber Strips but found to contain various cigarette brands.
District collector Maritess Martin said the latest apprehension is the result of the continuous intelligence and investigative work of the Port.
A full physical examination is still being conducted by the assigned customs examiner to identify if there are other items concealed in the said shipments.
The port will be issuing warrants of seizure and detention against the subject shipments and recommend to the Bureau’s Action Team Against Smugglers (BATAS) the filing of appropriate criminal charges against the smugglers.
Meanwhile, the Port reported that it has exceeded its collection from August 1-27, 2020 amounting to PHP2,395,500,885, a 16.8-percent increase from its target collection of PHP2.051 billion for the month. (PNA)