Customs seize P5M used clothing at Cebu port
TWO containers filled with imported used clothing worth P5 million were seized by Customs officials at the Cebu International Port (CIP) last Monday.
Lawyer Rico Rey Francis “Koko” Holganza, Bureau of Customs (BOC) Port of Cebu district collector, said the 40-foot containers held 280 bales of used clothes from South Korea.
“We got information that there were containers which were supposedly consigned to a PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) locator. We were able to verify the locator, but the company denied ownership over the two containers,” he told Cebu Daily News yesterday.
Representatives of the locator, whose identity Holganza requested to be withheld, were present during the opening of the containers earlier this week.
Holganza said the locator in Mactan was notified that the goods arrived and, since these were not theirs, immediately notified BOC about it.
BOC also received a tip from National Intelligence Coordinating Agency earlier last week.
The Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) pegged the shipment’s street value at P2.5 million per container.
Holganza said the CIIS told them that the shipment came from a “fictitious” sender in Korea declaring in the bill of lading that the goods were bales of sail clothes and ropes.
“If that’s the case, then those were supposed to be materials for the manufacture of sails (as in sail boats),” he said.
The containers are still at the CIP, but have since been sealed.
BOC will still have to coordinate with the Department of Social Welfare and Development regarding the use of the goods.
“If DSWD is willing to accept these kinds of items, then it would be great if we can donate it to them. It will really be useful to the fire victims,” Holganza said.
Republic Act No. 4653 bans importation of used clothing to “protect the health of the Filipinos and to preserve Filipino dignity.”
The district collector said he is worried that smuggling will become even more rampant given the ongoing repairs on the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge.
“Because we need to fast track the release or withdrawal of the containers for PEZA, some people might just take advantage of it,” he said.
In a meeting for ferry and barging arrangements at the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) office yesterday, it was proposed that imported goods bound for Mactan be transported directly to the island instead of being unloaded at the CIP.
But Holganza said people may come up with “bright ideas” to smuggle their goods among the containers being transported directly to Mactan.
“We have to be careful with the security of the containers supposedly being released. Whatever is for PEZA should actually be delivered there,” he said.
Among the proposals during the meeting were to unload the shipment to a barge that will bring it to Mactan Island where BOC will process its documentation.
Holganza said BOC is open to ideas to ensure the security of the containers.
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