By Betheena Unite
Instead of vitamins, unregistered Chinese medicines worth P700,000 were found inside a package shipped from China to the Port of NAIA Thursday, the Bureau of Customs said Saturday.
Around 180 kilos of Chinese medicines concealed in a shipment declared as “vitamin pills” were uncovered when Customs agents opened the shipment due to absence of necessary permits.
The shipment, according to the bureau, was shipped from Xiamen, Fujian in China to a mall consignee in Muntinlupa City. “Upon physical examination of the goods, it was found that the shipment contained Chinese medicines which were illegally imported without the necessary License to Operate and Certificate of Product Registration from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA),” Port of NAIA District Collector Carmelita Talusan said.
The goods will be subjected to seizure and forfeiture proceedings for violation of Section 1400 or misdeclaration in relation to Section 117 (Regulated Goods) and Section 1113 (Property Subject to Seizure and Forfeiture) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
On May 6, the Food and Drug Administration released FDA Advisory No. 2020-767 warning the public against the purchase and use of unregistered Chinese medicines. Days after two kilos of Chinese medicines shipped from a lone sender in Hong Kong but intended for three separate consignees were seized at the Port of NAIA. This was tagged as the bureau as a new modus that aims to slip out items from Customs with no FDA permit.
Ten days later, another shipment of misdeclared Chinese medicines with no FDA clearance was intercepted by the Port of NAIA. It came from Taiwan and attempted to evade duties and taxes by declaring it as plastic boxes.
Talusan said that the port will continue to support the directives of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to continuously guard the borders, remain vigilant against the entry of misdeclared goods and prevent attempts to use this COVID-19 pandemic to smuggle illegal goods into the country.
It can be recalled that the bureau created an inspection unit composed of Customs agents and Coast Guard men to counter smugglers attempting to take advantage of the lax release of shipments containing personal protective gear and other medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic by doing non-intrusive and physical examination on shipments.