By Junex Doronio
MANILA — Heeding the marching orders of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to stamp out all forms of smuggling and intensify strict border controls, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has raided a warehouse in Sulu and seized more or less P1.425 billion worth of suspected smuggled imported cigarettes.
Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group (IG) Juvymax Uy said they immediately acted upon receiving derogatory information from the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) headed by Director Verne Enciso.
“Remember that this happened in Sulu, in Indanan. Yet, despite how far Mindanao is from us, we made sure that distance won’t stop us from serving the LOA (Letter of Authority),” Uy said.
The LOA was issued by Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Y. Rubio.
On Thursday, March 2, a composite team from the BOC and Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service at the Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP), as well as troops from the Western Mindanao Command-Armed Forces of the Philippines (WESMINCOM-AFP), 11th Infantry Division, Philippine Army (11ID PA), Philippine Air Force-Special Operations Wing (PAF-SPOW), Joint Task Force (JTF)-Sulu, Philippine Navy-Naval Special Operations Unit (PN-NAVSOU), and PN Naval Forces Mindanao went to the warehouse in Sitio Buotan, Kajatian, Indanan, Sulu for the implementation of the LOA.
The warehouse was found to contain an estimated 19,000 master cases of assorted imported cigarettes, such as B&E ice menthol, New Far menthol, Souvenir menthol, Cannon menthol, BroadPeak black menthol, and Bravo.
”Simply put, we will stop at nothing and we will be present in every corner of the Philippines to make sure there won’t be space for these illegal activities,” Uy stressed.
For his part, Enciso said that the recent spate of warehouse raids that led to billions worth of discovery of smuggled items was made possible because the newly-appointed BOC chief, being an insider who rose from the ranks, understands what is at stake.
“Commissioner Rubio is setting the standard for us. These recent raids are examples of how the agency will work moving forward,” Enciso said.
A warehouse representative by the name Nomil K Arani acknowledged the LOA, so the team proceeded to inspect the facility where cases of suspected smuggled imported cigarettes were found and immediately hauled them to the Port of Zamboanga via Philippine Navy vessel.
Assigned Customs examiners at the Port of Zamboanga has began the inventory of goods, which was witnessed by CIIS and Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) agents and warehouse representatives.
The District Collector of the Port of Zamboanga is expected to immediately issuing the Warrant of Seizure and Detention (WSD) against subject smuggled cigarettes for possible violations of Executive Order No. 245, also known as “Amended Rules and Regulations Governing the Exportation and Importation of Leaf Tobacco and Tobacco Products”, National Tobacco Administration (NTA) Memorandum Circular No. 03, series of 2004; NTA Board Resolution No. 079-2005 in relation to Sec. 1113 (f and Sec. 117 in connection to section 1401 of R.A No. 10863 otherwise known as Customs Modernization and Tariff Act(CMTA) of 2016. (A. Inigo/MTVN)