BOC files smuggling raps vs. cigarette, agri products traders

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MANILA – Criminal cases have been filed against traders of cigarettes and agricultural products involving alleged illegal importations amounting to over PHP4 million, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) reported on Monday.

In a statement, the BOC, through its Bureau’s Action Team Against Smugglers (BATAS), said it has filed cases against the owners of Bianmintina Store and Storage and the Hightower Incorporated before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on April 16.

The first smuggling case is against the registered owner of Bianmantina in Pasay City for illegal importation and sale of various assorted cigarettes worth over PHP1.5 million on December 16, 2020.

The bureau said the store owner purportedly violated Section 1401(d) in relation to Sections 224 and 1402, and 117 in relation to Section 1430, 1113 (f), (l) [1 & 5] of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act; Section II (e) of Customs Memorandum Order No. 20-2006; Sections 41 and 42 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN); and Section 10 of National Tobacco Administration (NTA) 079-2005.

On the other hand, a smuggling case was also filed against Hightower Incorporated and its customs broker for the alleged misdeclaration and unlawful importation of prohibited agricultural fish products such as round scad and mackerel with a total value of over PHP2.6 million.

Under the Department of Agriculture (DA) Special Order No. 705, series of 2020, importation of round scad, bonito, mackerel, and moonfish for processing and/or for institutional buyers are temporarily suspended.

The violation was committed last Nov. 22, 2020, at the Manila International Container Port.

The respondents allegedly violated Section 1401 (d), in relation to Sections 1400, 1113 f and l (3-5), 118, 107, 405 and 412 of the CMTA; Section 61 (c) and (d) of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, as amended; DA Special Order No 705, Series of 2020; Section 3 (a), (e), (g), (h) and Section 4 (a) of the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016; and Article 172 in relation to Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended.

Meanwhile, the BOC also reported that it has so far filed 26 criminal cases against violators of Customs laws, rules, and regulations. (PNA)