Customs examiner, appraiser risk dismissal

October 02, 2018

AT LEAST two more frontline employees of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) are risking dismissal from the service for clearing a “high-risk” shipment in their report and recommending its release from customs custody.

“I think this is another case of the ‘lift-alert’ modus operandi I recently discovered.

“It is very unlikely that the (actual cargo) went unnoticed during the (alleged) physical examination,” said Comm. Isidro Lapeña, who personally witnessed the shipment’s reexamination yesterday at the Manila International Container Port.

The customs chief was referring to an incident last August also at the MICP where the responsible customs officials also cleared a shipment of white sugar from Thailand worth at least P13 million misdeclared by the consignee as ‘refractory cement.’

However, the deception fell through after Lapeña descended at the port and ordered the containers consigned to ‘Don Trading’ reopened and discovered for himself the smuggled sugar.

As a result, Lapeña ordered the relief and removal of at least 12 MICP officials, including the then acting district collector, Fidel Villanueva

In the latest incident, the still unnamed Customs examiner and appraiser allegedly issued a ‘no discrepancy’ report after purportedly conducting one hundred physical examination of the shipment declared as “850 packages of paper, mosquito nets, and clothing” and consigned to ‘D3S Trading.’

Despite this, the shipment, tagged ‘Red’ (high-risk) was still subjected to ‘non-intrusive’ (X-Ray) examination where the images inside the container were shown markedly different from the consignee’s declaration and the report of the Customs examiner.

On reopening, Lapeña said they found one unit of forklift, 18 drums of glycerol chemicals, ‘CISCO’ LAN server, laptops and cellphones.  He estimated the value of the shipment at P5 million.

“Customs personnel conniving with the importer and customs broker to make it appear that the misdeclared shipment is in order is outright unacceptable. We will look into this and make the guilty accountable,” Lapeña said.

Lapeña also approved the seizure of another 1X40-footer van consigned to NSGV Trading declared as containing used truck replacement parts and used aluminum sidings worth at least P3 million.

The result of the X-Ray done on the container also showed “discrepancies,” prompting XIP (X-Ray Inspection Project) chief, Atty. Zsae Carrie de Guzman to recommend physical examination of the shipment.

On actual examination yesterday, the cargo was discovered to actually consist of 500 pieces of brand new and used tires estimated to be worth P3 million

Aside from the filing of appropriate cases, Lapeña said he has also ordered the revocation of the customs accreditation of the owners and customs brokers of NSGV Trading and D3S Trading.

Additionally, Lapeña said he has approved the confiscation of another 1x40-footer van consigned to ‘Maxafrica Manufacturing Pvt. Ltd.,’ which has been ‘overstaying’ at the MICP since September 30, 2017.

The shipment was found to contain 885 cases of cigarettes from South Korea worth P18 million, bringing to P26 million the value of goods confiscated yesterday at the MICP.