Tuesday, June 27, 2006

BOC readies 43 new cases vs smugglers

By Edu Punay - -The Philippine Star

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) said yesterday it would file 43 new criminal cases against suspected smugglers found violating the Tariff and Customs Code.

Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales said the bureau is now collating evidence in preparation for the filing of separate cases against at least 10 companies and several Customs employees with the Department of Justice (DOJ).

BoC Legal Office director Raynaldo Umali identified one of the companies as Kingson International Trading Corp., which was involved in the smuggling of a shipload of steel products worth an estimated P80 million.

Umali, who also heads the BOC’s Run After the Smugglers (RATS) program, said a number of individuals would also be charged criminally, along with the company, in connection with the smuggling of luncheon meat, ceramic tiles and used clothing.

Customs Deputy Commissioner Celso Templo earlier said the DOJ provided the BoC with three special prosecutors to assist the bureau in the campaign against smuggling.

Templo said the prosecutors would also help the BoC in filing new cases, as well as monitor old cases pending in court.

Meanwhile, Umali said they need more lawyers in the RATS program to ensure that all cases would be monitored.

"In the past, there have been instances when a defendant submits a counter affidavit and there are certain issues in that affidavit that need to be answered. Since there was no lawyer assigned there, we did not receive the court notice and lost by default," he pointed out.

The strengthening of the legal mechanisms is part of the bureau’s reform agenda.

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