Smuggling wanes as BOC ties up with other agencies

Smuggling activities are reportedly waning in Zamboanga City nowadays as a result of the active coordination via viber between the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in the local port and other law enforcement agencies.

Port Operations Division Chief Jacob John Andain told the press briefing Monday that a very private group has been created—among representatives from the City Mayor’s Office, Task Force Zamboanga, Customs Police, Coast Guard, intelligence agents and other concerned agencies—to continuously monitor and stop smuggling.

He said the confiscation of smuggled items has declined in recent days “because we have a very active coordination with other law enforcement agencies.”

With regard to the several truckloads of smuggled rice that were intercepted in different checkpoints last week, Andain said those were old stocks, having been imported last year without pertinent documents.

“Those were referred to the BOC and NFA (National Food Authority) for verification of import documents and presentation of proof of payment of duties and taxes,” Andain said.

He explained that if duties and taxes have been duly paid and all documents are attested and the warehouses, where the rice had been withdrawn from, are accredited by NFA, the trucks and their cargoes will then be released with the concurrence of the NFA, BOC and the apprehending unit.

The port official further disclosed that the enactment of RA 11203 or the rice tariffication law has altered the functions of NFA, thus the need to closely coordinate with NFA for validation of documents, status of warehouses and inventory of stocks in the absence of the law and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

He said legitimate importers with import permits are also advised to coordinate with NFA, BOC and other concerned agencies for the movement of all dried stocks from one area to another while waiting for the IRR of RA 11203.

“This is to ensure that smuggling will stop,” Andain said.

Meanwhile, Andain announced that a reward of 20% from the auction proceeds of smuggled goods will be given to anyone who can report any illegal activities and other Customs fraud.

“The public is encouraged to act with the government because smuggling is everybody’s concern,” he said. “Rest assured, BOC’s coordination with other law enforcement agencies is in line with and in full support to the city’s fight against smuggling,” he concluded.-(Vic Larato)