P2.3 billion smuggled, counterfeit items seized—Customs

More than P2.3 billion worth of smuggled counterfeit items and used clothing from China were seized during a raid at a warehouse in Valenzuela City, the Customs bureau said on Friday.

Armed with a Letter of Authority issued by Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, operatives of the Manila International Container Port - Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service raided the warehouse along Maysan Road where they found assorted counterfeit products of Nike, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton, among others.

The raiding team also discovered used clothing, boxes containing face masks, and other imported items at the establishment.

MICP-CIIS chief Alvin Enciso said they acted immediately after his office received information about the counterfeit items and smuggled products worth billions of pesos being stored at the warehouse.

“You know, in this job, you have to move fast. These smugglers are creative and resourceful so if you have no sense of urgency, you aren’t going to catch them red-handed. Whenever we receive information about a possible smuggled shipment, we are very keen to act on it as soon as possible,” Enciso said.

He said the latest operation is part of the intensified anti-smuggling campaign by the MICP-CIIS in close coordination with the bureau’s Enforcement and Security Service, the Coast Guard, and Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission. 

MICP District Collector Romeo Allan Rosales issued a Warrant of Seizure and Detention, saying the management of the warehouse will be held liable for violating Section 224 in relation to Section 219 of Republic Act 10863 also known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA). 

The CMTA refers to the misdeclaration and misclassification of goods in a shipment resulting in deficiency between the duty and tax that should have been paid and the duty and tax actually paid. 

Country representatives from Nike and Louis Vuitton also inspected the counterfeit items bearing their brand names. 

Rosales said that the illegal trade of face masks without the proper permits and licenses will have a negative effect on public health. He said the smuggling of used clothing, on the other hand, will also impact the local clothing industries. 

Customs officials believes that as the economy begins to reopen at the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic, more smugglers will try to bring their products illegally into the country. 

Commissioner Guerrero maintained that his agency will clamp down on these illegal activities in the ports nationwide.

“We’re beginning to see the economy pick up. The local industries need all the help they can get from government agencies. We need to do our part in ensuring security and equality in the market. For us, this means curbing the trade of prohibited goods and making sure our local industries will thrive in the new normal,” the bureau chief said.

Topics: COVID-19 pandemic , smuggled items , Rey Leonardo Guerrero
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