A veteran congressman on Thursday urged the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to implement the pre-shipment inspection of all incoming container vans.
“Obviously, government agencies -- the BoC and the DoF (Department of Finance) -- don’t want to know what is inside the container vans. They are merely dependent on the declaration of importers. Industry analysts say that a minimum of P200-billion is lost every year due to unabated smuggling,” said Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza.
“The Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) was passed in 2015 but it was never implemented the pre-inspection provision specified in Sec. 440—that container vans should be inspected at their ports of origin
“They should be cleared at the port of origin before shipment. When the Duterte administration came in, we expected that it would be implemented, but until now, nothing has changed. Obviously, the DoF is not keen on its implementation,” Atienza said.
During his plenary budget interpellation of Sultan Kudarat Rep. Horacio Suansing, Jr., the vice chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, Atienza pointed out that Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez III had assured him way back in 2016 that he would enforce the pre-shipment inspection provision.
He said Dominguez just asked for time to study the law and review it more closely, assuring Atienza that the new administration is bent on enforcing the law and curbing the rampant smuggling that existed in the past.
“But now, three years have passed, and yet the pre-shipment inspection provision remains unenforced. It will be recalled that two shipments of shabu, worth about P13-billion, had entered the country through our piers, in container vans -- which were uninspected. According to Cong. Suansing, there are around 12,000 container vans coming into our ports everyday. Only a small fraction gets inspected, while the rest are allowed to come in using the green lanes even, hindi pa rin natin alam ang laman ng karamihan, giving big-time smugglers a holiday,” said Dominguez.
“The uninspected vans could contain shabu or other contraband shipments. And I’m sure many of these are undeclared and undervalued. Kung gusto nating pigilin ang smuggling, ito ang paraan. Kung gusto nating kumita ng mas higit ang gobyerno, ito ang paraan. My question therefore is very clear and simple -- why is it that you are dragging your feet in its implementation? Even after Customs Bureau chiefs had recommended to him the full implementation of the pre-shipment inspection. Pinahihirapan natin lagi ang taongbayan sa buwis. Pero ang buwis na dapat kinokolekta, hindi natin pinapansin,” Atienza added.