BOC deputy commissioner denies link to agri smuggling

Published June 29, 2022, 8:55 AM

by Aaron Recuenco 

Bureau of Customs (BOC) Deputy Commissioner Vener Baquiran vowed to continue the operations against smuggling as he denied allegations that he is involved in the illegal entry of agriculture products into the country.

“I categorically deny the allegations against me that I am involved in agricultural smuggling. These imputations are malicious and false,” said Baquiran in a statement.

“I, along with the whole BOC team will not be deterred by these allegations and we will continue our unwavering commitment to run after unscrupulous individuals and protect the welfare of our local farmers,” he added.

Baquiran’s name was included in the list of top government officials who are allegedly in cahoots with agriculture products smugglers.

BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero and BOC-Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Director Jeoffrey Tacio have also denied the allegations.

They said their inclusion in the list, which was disclosed in a Senate hearing, could be the handiwork of smugglers who were affected by their aggressive campaign.

Baquiran said he attended the Senate hearings and even submitted all the required information to assist the Senate in its investigation.

The Senate probe was prompted by the complaints of the local agriculture producers who said they lost multi-million pesos in earnings due to the flooding of imported products from other countries, mostly from China.

The smuggled agriculture products are way cheaper compared to the locally-produced products.

At the course of the Senate probe, Baquiran said he was not implicated in any smuggling activity.

“In fact the BOC furnished the Committee all required reports that readily showed that from 2016 to present, 111 criminal complaints involving 270 counts of violations relative to agricultural smuggling, were filed before the Department of Justice. Remarkably, 73 of which, involving 232 counts of violations, were filed during my tenure,” said Baquiran.

“Consistent with my mandate, I have also provided proper collection statistical analysis to the Commissioner, for which the BOC has generated an unprecedented collection of revenues for the government,” he added.

Citing BOC data, Baquiran said they surpassed the annual collection target for 2021 by 4.7 percent or P29.016 B, collecting a total of P645.765 B against its 2020 target of P616.749