2 persons face smuggling raps over P7.8-M luxury cars shipment

MANILA -- The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday filed smuggling charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against two persons allegedly behind the misdeclared shipment containing luxury cars worth PHP7.8 million that were seized at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) in September.

In a five-page complaint-affidavit filed by Alexander Ugay, the bureau said Julius Catalig, registered owner of Juljerjac Trading, and customs broker Rodrigo de Guzman violated Sections 1400 and 1401 of Republic Act No. 10863, or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) for allegedly trying to smuggle into the country two used Mercedes Benz cars, one colored white and the other black.

Executive Director of the BOC Action Team Against Smugglers (BATAS), Yasser Ismail Abbas, said the two Mercedes Benz cars, wheel, and tires that were seized on Sept. 13 were declared as 10 packages of auto parts, including shock absorbers, bearings, sprockets and spoilers, which arrived from Hongkong on July 29.

Abbas said the two face a prison term ranging from six to 12 years and a fine ranging from PHP1.5 million to PHP15 million.

He said the luxury vehicles have a total dutiable value of PHP4,164,240.28 and an aggregate amount of customs duties, fees and taxes amounting to PHP3,641,762.

If these were really auto parts, the respondents only have to pay about PHP267,000.

For his part, BOC Commissioner Isidro LapeAa has ordered BATAS to speed up investigations on erring importers and brokers and to file necessary criminal complaints against the culprits.

The strong evidence of misdeclaration and unlawful importation warrants the filing of criminal cases against the respondents," he said.

LapeAa earlier lauded the efforts of BOC personnel instrumental in the seizure of the luxury cars.

"I commend this successful apprehension and at the same time, I call on all BOC operatives to always safeguard our ports from any and all forms of smuggling. I am counting on you," he said.

Source: Philippine News Agency