This is regarding the column of Ramon Tulfo, “NBI summons 4 customs officials” (On Target), and “Customs execs pinatawag sa NBI” (Target ni Tulfo), published on the same date, March 6, 2018, in the Inquirer and Bandera, respectively.
Tulfo mentioned a particular shipment that was seized by the National Bureau of Investigation and wrote: “The papers for the shipment, which was seized by NBI agents outside the customs zone, had passed through their desks.”
According to the Office of the District Collector of the Manila International Container Port, the covering entries and other pertinent documents of the said shipment did not pass through the offices of lawyer Balmyrson Valdez and Evelyn Rivera, both from the MICP, considering that the shipment was processed under the yellow lane. The review of documents was done by the assigned customs examiner and
While it is true that the shipment was already out of the customs zone upon NBI apprehension, it must be made known that the MICP released the shipment because the documents were all found to be in order. There was consistency in the declaration, packing list and commercial invoice upon examination of the documents.
In relation to this, the BOC welcomes their initiative to help us in our antismuggling drive. However, it has to be made known as well that the BOC, as provided for in the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, has exclusive original jurisdiction in conducting antismuggling operations.
Other enforcement agencies like the NBI may conduct similar operations only when deputized in writing by the customs commissioner.
I have written the NBI director, copy furnished the secretaries of the departments of finance and justice, regarding the above-stated exclusive original jurisdiction of the BOC.
An offshoot to this incident, the NBI has committed to coordinate with the BOC all its antismuggling operations and to request for the issuance of alert orders when they have derogatory information involving any incoming shipments.
Time and again, I have been declaring in public that alert orders must not scare importers. Alerted shipments found to have no violation of customs rules are released immediately after examination.
In one of the columns, Tulfo also wrote, “Si Prudente, na kamag-anak ni Customs Commissioner Sid Lapeña, ay nasa likod ng mga ‘alert’ o pag-hold ng mga shipments para masiyasat ang mga laman nito.”
It must be clarified that the deputy commissioner of the Management Information System and Technology Group, Noel Prudente, has no authority to alert shipments. At present, the customs commissioner and the district collectors of all BOC ports have the authority to issue alert orders.
Prudente, to clarify further, is not among my immediate or distant relatives.
ISIDRO S. LAPEÑA, commissioner, Bureau of Customs