P1.4-B worth of smuggled cigarettes discovered in Sulu — BOC
MANILA, Philippines — Around P1.425 billion worth of cigarettes illegally imported into the country were discovered at a warehouse at Sitio Buotan, Kajatian in Indanan, Sulu, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said on Friday.
Reports from BOC said the warehouse raid was conducted on Thursday by a composite team from the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service at the Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP), the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and other AFP units.
BOC Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio authorized the raid, issuing a letter of authority (LOA) after receiving derogatory information from CIIS Director Verne Enciso.
The warehouse representative acknowledged the LOA from Rubio, allowing the team to conduct the inspection.
CIIS-MICP chief Alvin Enciso personally checked the smuggled items, which amounted to around 19,000 master cases of assorted cigarettes with brands like B&E ice menthol, New Far menthol, Souvenir menthol, Cannon menthol, BroadPeak black menthol, and Bravo.
The smuggled goods were immediately moved to the Port of Zamboanga through a Philippine Navy vessel.
BOC said the port’s examiners have started making inventory, as witnessed by the CIIS, the Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) agents, and the warehouse representatives.
Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Juvymax Uy said the operation is another proof of BOC’s intent to curb smuggling, as the agency acted immediately despite Sulu’s distance from their offices.
“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,” Uy said in a statement.
“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,” he added.
CIIS Director Verne Enciso noted that the recent raids are a standard of how the agency would work moving forward.
“Commissioner Rubio is setting the standard for us. These recent raids are examples of how the agency will work moving forward,” he added.
According to BOC, a Warrant of Seizure and Detention (WSD) against the smuggled goods will be issued for possibly violating Executive Order No. 245 or the Amended Rules and Regulations Governing the Exportation and Importation of Leaf Tobacco and Tobacco Products.
BOC said smuggling cigarettes also go against the National Tobacco Administration (NTA) Memorandum Circular No. 03, series of 2004; the NTA Board Resolution No. 079-2005, which is in relation to Sections 1113(f) and 117 in connection to Section 1401 of Republic Act No. 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act of 2016. With reports from Meralyn Melitante, trainee