Customs agents assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport seized P15 million worth of expensive shoes, bags and wallet brands smuggled from Milano, Italy.
Customs-NAIA district collector Carmelita Talusan said the owners of the balikbayan boxes, whom she refused to identify, will be held liable for technical smuggling after misdeclaring the shipment to avoid paying the right duties and taxes.
She said among the seized items were Chanel, Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Balenciaga brands of bags, shoes, wallets and earrings packed in 17 cartons from Milano through RRG Freight Service Forwarder in Paircargo Warehouse.
The shipments were misdeclared as canned goods, chocolates, and personal effects such as shampoo, soap, towels, and toiletries.
The modus operandi was timely uncovered by a diligent review of commercial documents by Customs Examiners, which prompted the immediate physical examination,” Talusan said.
“The misdeclaration is an apparent attempt to evade payment of correct duties and taxes by circumventing duty and tax free privileges afforded to balikbayan boxes,” she added.
Talusan said that the 100 percent physical examination of the subject shipments confirmed that it “actually consist of high end branded bags, shoes, wallets and earrings in commercial quantities.”
Talusan said the seized items will be subjected to seizure and forfeiture proceedings for violation of Section 1400 in relation to Section 1113 of the CMTA.
“Likewise, the records and details of the apprehension shall be referred to the Bureau Action Team Against Smugglers for case profiling and build up against the personalities involved in the foiled smuggling,” she said.
Traditionally, the Customs bureau is heightening its alert against smuggled items intended for the so-called “ber months” or holiday season.
The “ber months” period is critical for Customs because unscrupulous traders will try to find the opportunity to sneak in their illegal goods in time with the high volume of imports at the ports.
Shipments intended for the holiday season will start coming in from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Talusan said they will continue to be vigilant against smuggling in the coming months to ensure that all duties and taxes are being paid for increased volume of imports that arrive at the ports for the holidays.
She said that agency personnel were also alerted to make sure that all incoming shipments complied with the required clearances, certificates and permits from other regulating government agencies and foreign suppliers as required by law.
Authorities advised importers to secure product registration, and license to import and operate before bringing the articles into the country.
The absence of such clearance will automatically deem the shipment as contraband subject to seizure, forfeiture and subsequent destruction.