P3-B smuggled goods seized in Tondo raid

MANILA — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized an estimated PHP3-billion worth of smuggled bogus beauty products and other items in Tondo, Manila Monday afternoon.

Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena led the inspection of the hundreds of boxes of counterfeit cosmetic products, perfumes, and other merchandise inside five units in Vicente Tower, Dagupan Street in Tondo, Manila.

In a statement, the agency’s Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) and Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) armed with Letter of Authority signed by the BOC chief, confiscated hundreds of boxes of counterfeit goods inside units 8-A, 10-A, 10-B, 18-C, and 18-D of Vicente Tower.

Lapena said the raid stemmed from the investigation and surveillance conducted by BOC agents which lasted for three weeks.

Upon investigation, a certain Justine Lim was identified as the unit owner as well as the owner of the counterfeit goods. No arrest was made, as the suspected owner of the units was not in the premises during the operation.

The goods are said to originate from China based on the findings of BOC personnel from the Intellectual Property Rights Division.

Counterfeit goods are classified as prohibited under the Republic Act No. 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.

An investigation is now being conducted in relation to the importer’s violation of Section 118 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

On the other hand, the bureau also apprehended a vessel carrying 250 tons of smuggled rice said to be worth PHP4.6 million. The rice was intercepted on transit by the BOC – Port of Davao on November 19.

Lapena said the shipment contains around 5,000 bags of rice and believed to have originated from Malaysia.

“The shipment is now in the custody of Philippine Navy in Panacan, Davao City and will be turned over to BOC-Davao for inventory and disposal,” he said in a separate statement.

On November 20, lawyer Erastus Sandino Austria, district collector of the said port issued a warrant of seizure and detention against the vessel. The cargo vessel was apprehended for violation of Sections 1113 (a) (g) (k) and (l-5) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act in relation to NFA Letter Circular No. AO-2013-04-002.

“This is the largest rice smuggling activity apprehended in the Collection District XII this year,” the Customs official said.

This apprehension was a result of the concerted efforts of the Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao Command (NAVFOREM), National Food Authority, Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), PNP Maritime Group and the Bureau of Customs.

Meanwhile, the 12 crew members aboard the ship claimed they are Filipino citizens but their seafarer’s identification and record books suggest they are from Malaysia.

The Bureau of Immigration is set to confirm the nationality and identities of the 12 people on board the apprehended ship.

“The holidays are coming and so are unscrupulous traders. The increase in consumption during Christmas season prompts illegal traders to smuggle more agricultural products,” Lapena said.

“With this, I have directed all ports to strengthen their port operation against smuggled goods,” he added. PNA-northboundasia.com