By CHINO S. LEYCO
The Bureau of Customs has intensified its anti-smuggling campaign last year, seizing billions of pesos worth of smuggled goods, mostly counterfeit products, illegal drugs and tobacco products.
In a report to Finance Secretary G. Carlos Dominguez III, the Customs said it also filed criminal cases against 345 importers and 75 Customs brokers last year in line with the finance chief’s directive for the bureau to step up its campaign against smuggling.
The Customs also revoked the Customs accreditation of 196 importers and Customs brokers for various violations of Customs rules and regulations.
In 2019, the bureau seized ₱20.58 billion worth of smuggled goods. Of that amount, ₱9.44 billion were counterfeit products, ₱3.59 billion were illegal drugs, and ₱2.67 billion were cigarettes and tobacco products.
The rest were agricultural goods (₱398.47 million), general merchandise (₱59.87 million), vehicles and accessories (₱106.55 million), used clothing (₱66.86 million), steel products (₱78.59 million), electronics (₱21 million), goods and firearms (₱815,000), currency (₱35 million), and other products (₱4.1 billion).
Preliminary data submitted earlier by the Customs to the Department of Finance (DOF) showed that the bureau was able to collect ₱630.571 billion in revenues last year, representing a 6.3 improvement over the ₱593-billion collection in 2018 or up by ₱37 billion.
Customs collection efficiency remains consistent at 95.4 percent.
“The collection in 2019, apart from the efforts of our Collection Districts, is also attributed to revenue collection from issued Alert Orders amounting to more than ₱40.9 million, Post Clearance Audits with more than ₱2-billion collected revenue, and more than ₱527.9 billion from public auctions,” the Customs said in its report.
To facilitate trade, the Customs was able to finally join the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) last Dec. 30 for the exchange of the electronic Certificates of Origin (ATIGA e-Form D) with Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Customs also officially launched the Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Program to provide the bureau and its stakeholders with increased security while ensuring the seamless movement of goods.
On yard utilization, the Customs was able to reduce this to 71.2 percent in the Port of Manila (POM) and 72.66 percent in the Manila International Container Port (MICP) “ to provide a facilitated trade environment to its stakeholders.”
Its online accreditation program also resulted in the accreditation of 17,760 importers and 2,241 Customs brokers with zero backlog.