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BOC pursuing 127 active cases vs smugglers

PCAG eyes P23B additional revenues this year

THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) under Comm. Rey Leonardo ‘Jagger’ Guerrero, is presently monitoring the status of 127 ‘active cases’ of smuggling it filed last year against suspected smugglers and the customs brokers who aided them in their foiled smuggling attempts.

Atty. Vener Baquiran, deputy commissioner for revenue collection and monitoring (RCMG), in a year-end report to Guerrero, said of this number, 75 criminal cases are now pending before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for preliminary investigation while 52 administrative cases against the customs brokers are pending before the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) for the suspension or cancellation of their license.

The cases were filed thru the bureau’s ‘Run After the Smugglers’ (BATAS) program being implemented by Baquiran’s office.

From 2020 up to January 8, 2021, Baquiran said the RCMG, thru the Legal Service, also resolved 370 cases on appeal, involving abandonment proceedings, seizure and forfeiture cases, determination of probable cause proceedings, and protests.

Also for the same period, Baquiran said the BOC foiled various smuggling attempts of assorted goods valued at more than P9.5 billion, of which, 53 percent, involved illicit cigarettes and other tobacco products valued at more than P5 billion.

On the administrative side, Baquiran informed Guerrero that 48 disciplinary administrative cases involving customs personnel were also attended to covering the period 2019 to 2020, of which 18 cases have been transmitted to the Office of the Ombudsman for further investigation and resolution.

For cases last year, 11 of them have been resolved, 17 are awaiting resolution while 11 others are still under formal investigation.

In a separate report to Guerrero, assistant commissioner and bureau spokesperson, Atty. Vincent ‘Jett’ Maronilla, said his office, the Post Clearance Audit Group (PCAG), is “optimistic” of collecting over P23 billion more from its post-clearance audit of past shipments dating back to 2019.

Of the expected additional revenues, Maronilla bared these involved 26 “demand letters” (DLs) valued at P12 billion; 18 DLs amounting to P5 billion, which are now under appeal for reconsideration; and, eight Ls amounting to P6.9 billion, which remain unpaid and for referral to the Legal Service for filing of a collection suit.

Last year, PCAG contributed an additional P1.2 billion in revenues to the BOC, thru the 168 ‘audit notice letters’ (ANLs) it sent out to various importers subject to customs audit.

Despite the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Guerrero, for his part, informed Department of Finance (DOF) secretary, Carlos Dominguez, the bureau last year surpassed its assigned collection target of P506.15 billion by more than P33 billion, after generating actual cash collection of P539.660 billion for the government.

Guerrero noted that despite the slowdown in global economic activities last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BOC has consistently surpassed its assigned monthly target from June to December, or seven months in a row, thus making it possible for his agency to overshoot its assigned target.