WHEN it comes to smuggling activities, Cebu ranks among the highest, Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said.
The official, who was in Mandaue City yesterday for the Invest in Mandaue Forum 2017, raised his concerns in front of local business owners and officials of the Mandaue City Government on smuggling cases in Cebu, which he said was one of the areas in the country with the most number of shipped goods that are misdeclared or undervalued.
Recently, Lapeña said the Cebu port received about 160 containers of smuggled goods. “Kanina, we opened the container van. It contained high-value vehicles and a Land Cruiser,” the customs chief said. As a result, Lapeña said he has issued an alert order.
An alert order, according to the BOC, is a written order issued by authorized customs officers on the basis of derogatory information regarding possible non-compliance with the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), after the lodgment of goods declaration and before their release from Customs custody.
“An alert order, hindi naman dapat katakutan ‘yun, kung wala silang ginagawang masama...Gawin lang nilang legitimate and kanilang shipment (An alert order is nothing to be afraid of if you are not doing anything wrong. Just make sure their shipment is legitimate.) They have nothing to fear,” Lapeña continued.
He said that while there may still be some smugglers who can get away with their activities once or twice or even more, he warned them that the BOC will eventually catch them.
The official also pressed smugglers not to use their connections in the BOC to circumvent the Customs procedures and processes.
In seeking support for the BOC’s anti-smuggling efforts, he told those present that smuggling is also disadvantageous to legitimate business owners.
In his speech, Lapeña identified his five priority programs for the bureau: stopping corruption, increasing revenue earnings, ensuring trade facilitation, strengthening anti-smuggling efforts, and enhancing personnel incentives, rewards, compensation and benefits.