BOC denies Korean’s extort, theft claims at Clark airport

CLARK, Pampanga — An official of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Tuesday denied the claims of a South Korean national over alleged extortion and theft upon their arrival at the Clark International Airport (CRK) last February 12.

In a press conference, BOC Clark District Collector Maritess Martin shed light over the misinformation that Woo SeonKyung, a Korean national, posted on social media that went viral.

The BOC-Clark official added that the South Korean was informed that it is the mandate of the bureau to impose and collect lawful duties and taxes on importable goods unless it is tax and duty free, noting that what the Customs personnel assigned at the airport did was procedural.

She said that SeonKyung had to pay duties and taxes on the cosmetic items that she brought here amounting to UDS677 based on a receipt.

Under the procedure, imported items which exceed the PHP10,000 threshold of the De Minimis importation are imposed duties and taxes as provided in Sections 104 and 423 of Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

“We would like to put on record that Customs personnel at the Clark International Airport only implements the Customs laws, rules, and regulations, and impose lawful customs duties and taxes where applicable, and the same customs laws and rules are imposed upon arriving passengers, Filipinos and foreigners alike”, Martin said.

She added that since SeonKyung could not speak English, Customs personnel on duty Ramon Mindanao told her the amount of customs duties and taxes that she had to pay amounted to PHP6,941 or USD137, which is based on the rate of duty, value-added tax and customs documentary stamp.

“Unfortunately, Ms. SeonKyung refused to pay the said customs duties and taxes claiming that the goods were bought at Incheon Korea Duty Free Shop despite the explanation of Mr. Mindanao”, Martin said.

She said that in compliance to the Philippines customs procedure, the bag and the cosmetic products were held and a Held Baggage Receipt was issued but SeonKyung refused to sign the (green) copy of the receipt.

Martin also denied that the couple was made to wait for many hours for their items to be released.

“It was not true that she and her husband waited for the customs examiner for several hours, waiting for the release of the said items. They were informed that the items will be released only upon payment of the duties and taxes,” Martin said.

“Passenger SeonKyung and husband were treated with utmost courtesy and we politely explained to them the situation,” she added.

Regarding the alleged lost watch and electronic cigarettes during SeonKyung’s departure last Feb. 16, the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said that there was no e-cigarette on sight at the x-ray chamber as claimed by the couple.

OTS personnel Lalaine Anciado was able to retrieve the wrist watch at the exit chamber of the x-ray machine that fell off the hand carried bag of SeonKyung’s husband while queuing at the conveyor belt.

Anciado immediately went to last screening area and called the attention of SeonKyung’s husband and promptly returned the wristwatch.

OTS showed to the media the CCTV footage to counter the claim of the South Korean couple on social media post that went viral.

The South Korean couple arrived at CRK on board Jin Air flight number LJ023. Marna Dagumboy Del Rosario With reports from Ferdinand Patinio/