Timely sharing of intel vital to curb smuggling: BOC chief

MANILA � Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Isidro LapeAa on Saturday said proper coordination and timely release of information are essential in curbing smuggling, including illegal drug shipments.

Our mechanisms are in place, and consistent with my policy to verify all derogatory information received, I would have immediately alerted all those shipments, and if necessary, the entire port to prevent the release of illegal drugs. Since my assumption, the bureau of customs conducted intensified and relentless efforts against any forms of smuggling, he said during a press conference in connection with the recent discovery of four magnetic lifters in General Mariano Alvarez, Cavite on Friday.

The BOC chief said paramount in increasing the effectiveness of border protection in the suppression of smuggling is the "timely receipt of intelligence information from the lead agencies, primarily tasked to eliminate illegal drugs in the country, and the close coordination with proper authorities between agencies."

LapeAa identified the consignee of the shipment as SMYD Trading, discovered in Cavite, which according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) contains some one ton of "shabu" estimated to be worth PHP6.8 billion.

As a result of our backtracking investigation, it was identified that it was consigned to SMYD Trading, owned by Marina Dela Cruz Signapan with customs broker Katrina Grace Cuasay, declared the shipment as magnetic lifter, he said. The shipment passed through the normal procedure. It was tagged red, had been x-rayed and examined, but, as what PDEA had said, the drugs inside it cannot be detected."

The Cavite shipment was reported to authorities a day after the BOC seized two magnetic lifters containing some 500 kilos of "shabu" worth PHP4.3 billion at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), where the Cavite shipment also came from.

LapeAa said he first received information that includes the full details of the shipment (two magnetic lifters) only on August 4. He immediately put the container on hold.

On August 7, the shipment was opened and examined at the MICP. This shipment which was consigned to Vecaba trading arrived in MICP on June 28. And was abandoned by the consignee. Based on our record, this consignee is not accredited by the Bureau of Customs, LapeAa added.

On Friday, he ordered the revocation the accreditation of SMYD Trading.

Meanwhile, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said his office and the Philippine National Police initially received raw data but stressed that all information were subjected to validation.

"Once it's complete then we can share intelligence which are confirmed and reliable We can't share informations that are considered as hearsays," Aquino said in a statement.

LapeAa recommended to the Department of Finance the relief of the MICP district collector Vener Baquiran.

He also warned BOC personnel engaged in illegal transactions that they "shall all be brought to the surface, and they shall regretfully pay the price for their reprehensible actions." (with reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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