Operatives of the Bureau of Customs Intelligence Group apprehended a total of seven container vans containing various smuggled items from China at the Manila International Container Port on Tuesday (December 23). Among the items seized are at least 360 kilograms of mercury (quicksilver) worth an estimated P1.8-Million, various pain and anti-arthritis medicines, and assorted counterfeit footwear and apparel.
Deputy Commissioner Jessie Dellosa, Head of the Bureau’s Intelligence Group said that so far only one of the seven containers has been subjected to 100% physical inspection, with the rest to follow in the coming days. The shipments are consigned to Greyvoid Corporation and Thunderdragon Foods and Agricultural Products Import Export Corporation. These had been declared as paper cups, paper plates and t-shirts.
Mercury is used in a wide array of devices such as thermometers, barometers, manometers, sphygmomanometers, float valves, mercury switches, mercury relays, fluorescent lamps and telescopes. It is also used in amalgam for dental fillings as well as cosmetics. Mercury is also used in mining to separate gold from crushed ore. However, because of the toxicity of the heavy metal, the use of mercury is being banned. In 2012, President Aquino issued Executive Order No. 79, banning the use of mercury in small-scale mining. The Philippines is also a signatory to the United Nations-backed Minamata Convention, an international treaty that seeks to ban mercury use in over 130 countries by 2020.
Among the seized items are a variety of pain medicines for arthritis, including syringes of sodium hyaluronate. They had no English text on the labels or product inserts. The shipment also had apparel and footwear bearing brands like “Havianas,” “Keds,” “Sandugo,”Abercrombie and Fitch,” “Polo Ralph Lauren,” “Fred Perry,” and “Giordano.”
“Almost all the items in the shipments are illegal importations. Mercury and all medicines are regulated items that require permits from other government agencies. We also believe that all the clothing with fake brands are meant as additional stocks for the holidays,” said Dellosa.
Last week, operatives of the Bureau conducted raids on warehouses of fake electronic devices such as cellphones and tablets that were being passed-off as original products.