By Rea Cu, January 28 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business World

Acting on a tip via the government hot line, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) intercepted and seized eight drums of smuggled oil at Taganito Spxecial Economic Zone in Claver, Surigao del Norte.

The BOC said, the liquid content inside the drums, which were intercepted by the bureau on January 24, was initially suspected as palm oil upon inspection. The samples were then submitted for laboratory analysis to determine the contents.

Initial investigation showed that the eight drums were discharged from MT Southern Narwhal on January 13. Upon checking the Inward Foreign Manifest and Stowage Plan submitted by the captain of the vessel, it was discovered that the eight drums were not listed as cargoes.

The undocumented items were seized in violation of Section 113 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, which states that imported or exported goods without going through a customs office is subject to seizure and forfeiture.

The BOC reported that an anonymous informant called its 8888 Citizens’ Complaint Hotline, which was received by BOC-CARES, the bureau’s first contact of interaction manning the bureau’s hot line.

The tipster revealed that eight smuggled blue color drums were discharged from a vessel at Taganito HPAL (THPAL) Nickel Corp., Taganito Special Economic Zone in Claver.

On January 23, acting on the tip off, Jeffrey Tacio, director of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) informed Joseph Romano, supervisor of CIIS at the Port of Surigao.

Romano immediately relayed the information to the District Collector of Surigao Ciriaco Ugay, who in turn, formed a composite team to be dispatched at Taganito Economic Zone to monitor the place and conduct inspection the following day.

Following the operation, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero urged all ports to be “relentless” in stopping all forms of smuggling.

Last week, it was reported that in line with its border-security mandate, Guerrero said the bureau will organize its own Customs border-police force this year, which will comprise of 1,500 new recruits hired and trained by the BOC.

Also, the Department of Finance said that it is targeting to roll out the fuel marking system in March as part of the government’s revitalized bid to curb fuel smuggling into the country.

According to Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua the government loses P27 billion to P44 billion in revenues due to oil smuggling.