No Small Case for Anti-corruption Efforts

Suspensions Ordered for Customs Operations Officer Estigoy and BIR Revenue Officer Avisado

The Department of Finance Revenue Integrity Protection Service (DOF RIPS) has scored two victories in its efforts to advance anti-corruption efforts with the recent decisions rendered by the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

The Ombudsman in its decision found respondent Jocelyn M. Estigoy (Estigoy), Bureau of Customs Operations Officer III of the Port of San Fernando, La Union, guilty of Simple Neglect of Duty. She was meted a penalty of suspension from office without pay for three months; or if suspension can no longer be enforced because of respondent’s separation from the service, she is to pay a fine equivalent to her three months’ salary.

Respondent Estigoy’s case emanates from her alleged failure to verify the authenticity of the Certificate of Eligibility, which Norsk Hydro (Phils.) Inc. (Norsk) submitted, allowing the latter to evade paying correct duties and taxes for nine import entries. The Ombudsman in arriving at its ruling held that Estigoy failed “to give proper attention to a required task or to discharge a duty due to carelessness or indifference.”

Meanwhile, the CSC found respondent Eleodoro C. Avisado (Avisado) guilty of “Simple Neglect of Duty and Failure to File Sworn Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) and Disclosures of Business Interest and Financial Connections Including Those of Their Spouses and Unmarried Children Under Eighteen (18) Years of Age Living in their Households.” He was meted the penalty of three (3) months and one (1) day suspension from service.

In its decision, the CSC held that Respondent Avisado, a Revenue Officer III of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Revenue Region No. 10, Legaspi City, violated Section 8 of Republic Act 6713, obliging public officials and employees to accomplish and submit their SALN and Disclosures of Business Interest and Financial Connections. In arriving at this decision, the CSC said that there are overwhelming pieces of evidence showing that respondent Avisado did not file his SALN and Disclosures on or before April 30, 2011. In fact, the CSC noted that while the respondent’s SALN and Disclosures are dated April 15, 2011, it was only subscribed and sworn to by Avisado on August 4, 2011. Further, the same documents were stamped received by BIR HRM Unit on August 5, 2011.

The CSC also found respondent Avisado’s failure to file his 2010 SALN on the prescribed period as constituting Simple Neglect of Duty. The Commission said Avisado has a sworn duty as a government employee to submit his SALN every 30th of April, and her failure to submit the same shows that she failed to give proper attention to a task expected of a public official or employee.

The Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS) is the anti-corruption arm of the DOF. Under the present Aquino Administration, RIPS has consistently investigated allegations of corruption in the DOF and its attached agencies: RIPS has increased its tally from a mere 113 personalities charged in the years 2003-2010 to 231 charged, more than double in just a span of 4 years.

RIPS calls on the public to actively participate in the eradication of corruption in the Government by reporting public officials and employees who engage in graft and corrupt practices.

Which of these products are regulated imports?

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Customs launches ‘bible’ for all regulated products

Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla explains the features of the BOC Regulated Imports List, a masterlist of all regulated products and their corresponding import requirements that can be downloaded online from the Bureau’s website. The list aims to help importers and brokers transact with the Bureau with less hassle.

Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla explains the features of the BOC Regulated Imports List, a masterlist of all regulated products and their corresponding import requirements that can be downloaded online from the Bureau’s website. The list aims to help importers and brokers transact with the Bureau with less hassle.

To help minimize corruption and make the importing process more transparent, BOC has come up with a masterlist of all of the regulated import products in the country and their corresponding import requirements that can be downloaded online.

“Some importers and brokers would resort to bribery just to make their transactions with the Bureau faster, and at the same time, with little or no knowledge of the import process, traders are often victimized or exploited by unscrupulous Customs employees. By making the list of all regulated products and their corresponding import regulations and required clearances / permits readily available online, we are empowering the public so they can transact with the Bureau with less hassle and at the same time eliminate any room for corruption in our personnel,” Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla said.

“There will be less legwork for importers and brokers as they wouldn’t have to go from one agency to another just to inquire about the permits / clearances needed for importation and at the same time, our front-liners will be empowered as they now have a single reference list for all regulated products. They don’t have to guess what permits are needed for a certain product. They won’t make the mistake of requesting for wrong or unnecessary clearance / permit,” Sevilla said.

According to Sevilla, this is the first time that a single reference list of all regulated products has ever been done. “This is the first in the history of Customs that such a ‘bible’ of all regulated imports and their corresponding import requirements has ever been compiled. This is truly a major step in improving the Customs process.”

“By taking stock of all regulations, permits, and clearances of various government agencies, we were able to see that many products require clearances from multiple agencies. We are hoping that this would also serve as a catalyst of change for the different regulatory bodies to revisit their rules or regulations so that in the future we can have unified clearances for products that are presently requiring more than one permit to import.”

The list of regulated imports can be downloaded by going to the BOC website and clicking the banner BOC Regulated Imports List. Just download all the links in one folder in your computer to be able to access the list including the user’s guide.

The downloadable imports list comes in three versions: by specific product, by broad category product, and by the regulating agency. All three lists contain information for over 7,400 regulated products ranging from basic commodities like rice and sugar to vehicles, iron and steel products, oil, and electronic goods, among others. Each row in the list corresponds to one product. Also included in the row is the product’s category, who can import it, its regulating agency, list of prerequisite documents for Customs clearance, links to regulating agencies’ clearances and permits, among others.

The BOC is advising importers and brokers to download and view the Regulated Imports List as the Bureau will strictly implement all the requirements shown in the list beginning April 20, 2015. All imports of products included in the list must have the required permits from the regulating agencies in the masterlist before it can be cleared by Customs.

“Because the online masterlist will become the basis of all involved in the importation of products—from the importers, brokers, to the Customs personnel, we will make sure that the list is updated if ever there are any changes in regulations,” Sevilla said.

BOC has requested regulating government agencies that if there will be changes in their regulations on imports, to inform BOC at least one month in advance before implementation so that the Bureau can reflect the changes in the master list.

The regulatory products master list web page was first announced by Sevilla during the Economic Development Cluster Meeting last Friday, February 13.

Amazing Glory Faces Smuggling Charges Again

Amazing Glory General Merchandise, which was charged by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) last year for smuggling fake goods, is once again facing similar charges in the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Amazing Glory General Merchandise owner, proprietor and general manager Herman Dela Cruz and licensed customs broker Dennis Bancairen are facing charges once again for bringing in fake goods from China worth an estimated P100-Million. Last July 2014, BOC filed a similar case against Amazing Glory for the same offense with the fake goods amounting to P310-Million.

The fake goods, stored in two 40-foot container vans, were declared as “1,552 packages of ladies bags, shoes, stationery, blender, watch, cellphone accessories, toilet soap and moisturizers.” However, upon further examination the shipment was revealed to contain over 33,000 pieces of assorted goods with infringing trademarks like Nike bags, pouch bags and wristwatches; Adidas and Nike children’s bags; Sanrio bags; Gucci wristwatches and ladies bags; Swatch, Puma and Calvin Klein wristwatches; Longchamp ladies bags; Sony headsets; and Oakley pouch bags.

For importing counterfeit products from China through the Port of Manila last May 2014, Dela Cruz and Bancairen are facing charges for violation of prohibited articles under the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines Sections 3601 and 101, as amended in relation to Section 166 on infringement of Republic Act 8293 (Intellectual Property Code); and violation of Section 3602 of the TCCP.

“They never learn. They think they can get away with their smuggling activities but they are wrong. We will continue our aggressive drive against smugglers. We also appeal to our consumers not to patronize fake products as these take away livelihood from legitimate business and their workers. If people will continue to buy fake goods then the smuggling will not stop. To help us curb smuggling, please patronize only the real stuff,” said Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla.

From January to November of 2014, the government has seized an estimated P13.3-Billion in fake goods, a 116-percent surge compared to the P6.16 billion worth of counterfeit products confiscated last year with the biggest contribution to the seizures coming from the joint operations conducted by the Bureau of Customs, NBI, IPOPHL, which hauled in P9.34 billion worth of counterfeit products.

Customs seizes P140 million worth of agri products in Mindanao Port

Tagaloan, Misamis Oriental—The Bureau of Customs (BOC) through its Intelligence Group (IG) seized around P140 million worth of agricultural products at the Mindanao Container Terminal.

The goods entered Mindanao through several shipments from China and Vietnam consigned to EC Peninsula and New Dawn Enterprises. Both consignees have been charged previous smuggling raps by the Bureau before the Department of Justice for the alleged illegal importation of glutinous rice (malagkit) worth around P80-million just last month.

According to Customs Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Jessie Dellosa, 78 container vans which were declared as various kitchenware, houseware, tiles and mix condiments were inspected and found out to be containing various agricultural products like rice, sugar, garlic, carrots, and potatoes.

The container vans were inventoried and examined by an interagency team of the BOC and Department of Agriculture (DA) headed by Dellosa together with the BOC’s Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) and Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Cagayan de Oro.Also present to witness the examination were representatives of the DA, the Bureau of Plant Industries, and the Sugar and Regulatory Administration.

“We put the containers on alert status because of the general declarations of kitchenware, houseware, tiles and mix condiments. Already those were red flags for us as they are often used. Though outright misdeclaration is one of the most common forms of concealment, apprehending goods smuggled this way still tests our mettle in intelligence, profiling, risk management, and interagency teamwork,” explained Dellosa.

For his part, Commissioner John P. Sevilla said that he ordered his men to intensify their efforts towards curbing smuggling in Mindanao ports. “We have stepped up our intelligence operations down south to combat unscrupulous importers who always look for points of entry. Our aim is to stop them at every port,” Sevilla said.

Customs Watch! In focus: Textile Industry | Why is fabric cheaper than yarn?

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Is there a PHP 4 Skippy or JIF Peanut Butter and a PHP 10 Nutella Chocolate Spread?

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Is it reasonable to declare an imported can of Palm and Hereford corned beef at PHP 3, and Hormel, Libby’s and Pampeano at PHP 4?

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