Cayetano to BOC: Run after big fish in smuggling

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano reiterated his challenge to Customs officials to focus on going after big-time smugglers and inspecting containerized vans, where most smuggled items are found, instead of heavily regulating packages from ordinary migrant workers who sacrifice a lot to provide their families’ needs.

“If the Customs bureau is indeed committed to put an end to the smuggling of contraband and illegal imports into the country, it should go after the “big fish” and consider restoring the policy of conducting pre-shipment inspections of all containerized cargoes being shipped from abroad,” Cayetano said.

The senator aired his proposal during this Thursday’s Senate joint committee inquiry into the Bureau of Custom’s (BoC) widely-criticized directive to randomly open and inspect overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs’) balikbayan boxes as a way to deter smuggling.

“The inspection of containerized cargoes at the point of origin… has been the [solution] of many countries [to curb smuggling]. I do not know why naka-focus tayo sa balikbayan boxes, pero ayaw nating pa-inspeksyunan 100 percent ang ating containerized vans sa ibang bansa,” he stressed.

Cayetano said conducting pre-shipment inspections by accredited foreign cargo surveyors is a better alternative than randomly opening balikbayan packages, as it will not only prevent the smuggling of goods in the country, but will also minimize corruption in the bureaucracy and speed up port processing.

The senator castigated Customs officials for attempting “to harass OFWs and returning citizens with their unwarranted directives and tax policies, while continuously failing to go after big-time smugglers who illegally import goods through the use of containerized vans.”

“If you look at the smuggling incidents that were reported by [several news outlets], these are drugs, toxic wastes, [etc.] na hindi sa balikbayan box pinasok, kundi sa containerized vans. 65 percent ng ating cargoes are brought in through bulk and break bulk, pero meron itong pre-shipment inspection. Pero ang 35 percent ng containerized vans, walang inspection,” Cayetano pointed out.#