Courts junk petitions, uphold sentence for traders
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) scored a major victory against smuggling as the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) junked the petitions of the motion for reconsideration of three traders accused of smuggling. The tax court upheld the convictions of Roel Paquit-Sayson, Francisco Billones and Mary Lucille Billones for their illegal importations.
Sayson, owner of Trex Eve Auto Sales and Services, is sentenced to up to 12 years in jail plus an P8,000 fine for the illegal importation of vehicles from South Korea to the Philippines. He was charged for misdeclaring 12 units of Kia Sportage and three Hyundai Gallopers as used truck replacement parts with estimated taxes and duties amounting to P1,779,770.61. Sayson was found guilty by Third Division of the CTA on December 12, 2012. The accused however filed his Motion for Reconsideration and Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration on December 26, 2012 and January 15, 2013, respectively, both of which were denied by the CTA.
The CTA also affirmed the sentences of Francisco and Mary Lucille Billones, both officials of Rubills International for illegally importing 510,000 kilograms of refined sugar from Singapore which they misdeclared as 306 kilograms of soy beans. The accused were found guilty of violating provisions of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, the Bureau of Food and Drug Rules and Regulations, and Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code and were meted out two consecutive nine-year jail terms plus a P20,000 fine. The accused also have to pay duties and taxes amounting to P5.073-Million.
“The favorable rulings from the courts have encouraged us to strive even more in our fight against smuggling. Our renewed vigor has given us new directions as far as our investigations and litigation goes so that each case we file has a high chance of conviction,” said Customs Commissioner John P. Sevilla.
RTC convicts Indonesian drug-mule
The Regional Trial Court of Pasay, Branch 116 found Francesca Jovian, an Indonesian national, guilty of bringing 3.7 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride or ‘shabu’ worth P29.896-Million into the country. Jovian was apprehended by authorities in May 2012 following her suspicious behaviour upon arrival from Hong Kong at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3. Customs and airport police found the cache of drugs hidden inside a secret compartment in Jovian’s hand-carried bag. She was found guilty of violating Section 3601 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines and section 4, Article II of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) and was meted a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment and a fine of P5,000.00. After serving her sentence, the accused will be deported back to Indonesia.
The Bureau of Customs has filed 182 smuggling-related cases before the Department of Justice (DOJ), of which 130 are pending preliminary investigation at the DOJ, and 38 have been elevated or filed as cases before the courts. The Bureau has also taken significant steps to improve its Run-After-The Smugglers (RATS) program, which includes capacity-building for more effective investigation, case profiling, and case build-up. Established by the Bureau in July 2005 and formally launched in 2006, the RATS program is mandated to detect and prosecute smugglers and other customs and tariff law violators.