By Chino S. Leyco
The government continued to intensify its campaign against smuggling and tax evasion through the combined efforts of the Bureaus of Customs (BOC) and of Internal Revenue (BIR) last year, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
On the watch of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, the BIR spearheaded several raids on warehouses storing counterfeit cigarette brands, while the Customs intercepted undocumented shipments of rice, steel products, luxury cars and other assorted goods.
The BIR, from January to November 2018, has seized 5,227 mastercases of counterfeit cigarettes bearing various brands and affixed with counterfeit tax stamps.
In 2018, the Customs, as of Dec. 19 that year, has seized P9.271 billion worth of smuggled goods from various ports nationwide and filed 68 cases before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against suspected smugglers.
The Customs has also either revoked, suspended or canceled the customs accreditation of 126 importers and 15 customs brokers as part of the bureau’s intensified campaign against smuggling in 2018.
Of the smuggled goods intercepted by Customs, illegal drugs accounted for the bulk of the seized items at P3.074 billion, while another P7.319 billion-worth of confiscated items were assorted goods; P56.278 million were cars and other types of vehicles; P490.26 million, agricultural products; P1.343 billion, general merchandise; P4.344 million, used clothing; P49.7 million, steel products, and P4.356 million, counterfeit goods.
The Customs was also able to foil several attempts to smuggle rice, sugar and other goods into the country.
In keeping with Secretary Dominguez’s directive, the Customs has already donated a total of 374 bags of rice to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) to augment the government’s disaster relief efforts for typhoon victims.
The BIR, for its part, incinerated over 230,000 mastercases or over 115 million cigarette packs bearing brands manufactured by the defunct Mighty Corp in 2018. It earlier destroyed over 9,000 mastercases bearing the Mighty brands in the latter part of 2017.
The aggregate excise tax of the incinerated cigarettes total some P9 billion, which was part of the P30 billion tax deficiency of the cigarette firm.
These destroyed cigarettes were seized in separate operations in San Simon, Pampanga, San Ildefonso, Bulacan, Tacloban City, and General Santos City in warehouses leased by Mighty.
To step up the campaign against illicit tobacco products, Dominguez has instructed the Customs and BIR to track down manufacturers of counterfeit tobacco products and their possible cohorts in government who had a role in allowing the entry of unlicensed cigarette-making machines into the country.
Dominguez also directed them to coordinate with officials of the country or countries of origin of these unlicensed cigarette making units to seek their cooperation in finding the people behind the illegal entry of the machines via Philippine ports.
He also ordered the Customs and BIR to disable the confiscated machines so that they could no longer be used for illicit operations.