Customs files 166 cases vs errant traders, brokers

THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) announced last Thursday it filed a total of 166 criminal and administrative cases against erring importers and customs brokers last year.

The BOC revealed it filed a total of 103 criminal cases against 309 importers and customs brokers for violating Republic Act 10863 (Customs Modernization and Tariff Act) and other laws.

The BOC added it also filed at the Professional Regulation Commission about 63 administrative cases against licensed customs brokers.

Among the cases filed involved the unlawful importation of the following items: cigarettes (valued at P897.1 million); agricultural products (P293.9 million); general merchandise (almost P253.2 million); medicines (P57.1 million); motor vehicles (P49.1 million); and other commodities (P63.1 million), data from  the BOC Action Team Against Smugglers (Batas) revealed.

Erring individuals are also facing criminal cases due to unlawful removal and disarming of electronic BOC seals, according to the agency.

Based on preliminary data, the BOC collected a total of P645.77 billion last year, surpassing by 4.7 percent or P29.016 billion its full-year target of P616.75 billion.

The bureau attributed this feat to improved valuation, intensified enforcement operations against illegal importations, improved compliance by traders to customs laws, the gradual improvement of importation volume and government’s efforts to ensure unhampered movement of goods domestically and internationally.