THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) “will cooperate” with Congress and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) in the investigation of alleged rampant smuggling of “substandard” steel products.
This was the assurance given yesterday by Comm. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, as he also called on agency stakeholders and the public to “provide information” regarding the “illegal” and “irregular” activities being committed by unscrupulous traders and customs brokers in connivance with corrupt bureau employees.
The probe on substandard smuggled steel products is prompted by a resolution filed by Agusan del Norte Rep. Lemuel Fortun, amidst persistent reports on the proliferation of below-standard steel products that pose hazard to life and property especially during earthquakes.
For its part, the PACC announced it is also conducting a probe against the alleged “large-scale technical smuggling” of steel products by a reputable steel company.
‘Technical smuggling’ mostly involves the misdeclaration and undervaluation of imported goods to evade the payment of the right duties and taxes or evade compliance with regulatory requirements such as import permit or meeting the required standard set by the government.
The widespread destruction during a Magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Bohol island in 2013 was being blamed on the use of substandard steel and also in the collapse only last April of a supermarket in Pampanga after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake.
BoC spokesperson and Post Clearance Audit Group (PCAG) assistant commissioner, Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla, also divulged that already, his office is investigating at least five steel companies to find out if “irregularities” were committed involving their past importations.
“No effort shall be wasted in (imposing liability) on those responsible for the entry of substandard steel,” Maronilla said.
The PCAG head also explained that errant importers may be held liable to pay penalties and charges ranging from 125 percent to 600 percent of the revenue loss arising from negligent or fraudulent declarations.