The Philippines’ Bureau of Customs (BOC) has declared an all-out war against cigarette smuggling, reports The Manila Times. Cigarettes top the bureau’s list of most smuggled products.
In 2020, the BOC seized PHP5.77 billion ($119.138 million) worth of illicit cigarettes—more than half of the PHP10.63 billion worth of smuggled goods intercepted by the bureau in 2020. The agency recorded 997 seizures from January 2020 to December 2020. Of the number, 204 seizure cases were for smuggled cigarettes and tobacco products.
Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero tapped the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) to take the lead for the anti-smuggling effort in cooperation with the Enforcement Security Service, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine Coast Guard.
Guerrero’s directive came in the wake of a series of interceptions of more than PHP100 million worth of smuggled cigarettes made by operatives of the Manila Container Port-CIIS during the first two months of the year.
Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Raniel Ramiro disclosed that the latest interception comprised 820 master cases of Astro brand cigarettes with a street value of PHP30 million. In January and in early February, the CIIS operatives also seized PHP70 million worth of illegal cigarettes and other goods following a raid in three separate storage facilities in Paco, Manila, Las Pinas City and Pasay City.