Customs to probe rice, sugar smuggling in Davao port

September 4, 2010 10:49 am 

By Ferdinand G. Patinio

MANILA, Sept. 3 – A four-man team will be sent to the Port of Davao next week to investigate the rampant smuggling of basic commodity such as rice, sugar, among others, an official of the Bureau of Customs said Friday.

Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Filomeno Vicencio Jr. said the panel would conduct the probe to identify the people behind the smuggling of rice, sugar and oil in the port.

He said that he was instructed by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to look on the matter after receiving information of the illegal activities inside the Davao port.

“We will send a team immediately to unmask the smugglers and this is in line with the instruction of Secretary Purisima,” said the concurrent head of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS).

On Thursday, Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez led the filing of criminal charges against an importer and bureau employees for the alleged smuggling of 781 20-foot container vans loaded with white rice from Vietnam which was misdeclared as bean varieties.

Charged were Point Given Marketing owner Lamberto Ramos Espiritu and Customs personnel Vicitacion Difontorum, Ma. Theresa Agabao, Margarita Santiago, Taha Cali and Glen Orello, all assigned at Port of Manila – Formal Entry Division.

The importer tried to evade the payment of taxes and duties because the rice cargoes were described as mung beans, peyin beans or green beans, which are zero-rated in both duties and VAT under the Asean Free Trade Area.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Resident Ombudsman at the BOC has been transferred to a more accessible location to accept complaints against erring employees of the bureau.

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez headed the opening of the new office located outside the BOC main building, together with Alvarez and other officials and employees of the bureau.

Prior to the inauguration of the new office, the Office of the Resident Ombudsman was formerly located outside the BoC Compound, near the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) headquarters, in Gate 1 of the South Harbor, while the BOC in Gate 3.

The Ombudsman’s Office in the bureau is headed by lawyer David Corpuz. (PNA) RMA/FGP/utb


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