The Bureau of Customs continues to intensify its border protection efforts against the smuggling of agricultural products through enhanced intelligence and enforcement operations and strengthened cooperation with the Department of Agriculture (DA).
The BOC conducts profiling of suspected smugglers as a preventive measure to suppress smuggling. Similarly, the accreditation of importers and customs brokers was revoked, and criminal cases were filed before the Department of Justice against unscrupulous individuals. Since 2016, 103 cases were filed against importers and brokers for the alleged smuggling of agricultural products.
Intensified intelligence and enforcement operations and consistent examination and inspection of containers in various ports of entry nationwide are also in place. Since 2019, 542 seizure cases were conducted, amounting to Php1.99 billion worth of agricultural products.
Administrative investigations are also being conducted against BOC officials and personnel that are allegedly involved in illegal and irregular activities.
Furthermore, BOC met with the DA and discussed a new set of measures to curtail the entry of smuggled agricultural commodities and ensure an optimum level of food safety for Filipino consumers.
In the said meeting, the DA was allowed access to the x-ray areas of the Bureau to ensure full transparency in the conduct of inspection of agricultural products and to strengthen the second border inspection.
An inter-agency data exchange of all relevant information requested by the DA to validate shipments suspected of agricultural smuggling was also agreed upon. The said information includes the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance (SPSIC), among others. This is on top of the Inward Foreign Manifest that the BOC has been furnishing the DA consistently.
Also, an agreement towards a strengthened anti-smuggling coordination was established where derogatory information and intelligence information may be quickly shared and acted upon by each agency.
In addition, a Technical Working Group (TWG) was created to review and update the regulations and procedures for clearing imported agricultural commodities. The TWG is also tasked to identify and address all possible loopholes in the importation guidelines and procedures.
Moreover, the BOC is consistently monitoring and reviewing all importations of agricultural products for possible violations of Customs laws, rules, and regulations. Mandatory inspection of all reefer containers prior to their transfer to the DA-accredited cold storage facility is also being implemented. The Electronic Tracking of Containerized Cargoes (ETRACC) system is also in effect to ensure the safe transit and transfer of agricultural goods.