Drilon presses for pre-shipment inspection of cargoes

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A Bureau of Customs X-ray van checking a container. (Photo courtesy of Ben Leano)

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon vowed to block the budget of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) if the administrative order subjecting containerized cargoes to shipment inspection is not signed.

“We make of record the position of the minority leader. We will oppose the approval of the budget of the Bureau of Customs unless this administrative order is amended – which amendment has been pending for I don’t know how long – in order that we can immediately address the issues of these contraband drugs passing through our customs,” Drilon said at the interpellation of the proposed P3.105 billion 2018 budget of the agency.

“I have no qualms in saying that I have not opposed the approval of any budget here in my 19 years. But this time I will put my foot down,” he added.

In an ambush interview, the minority leader reiterated his position: “I will block the budget of the Bureau of Customs unless that matter of pre-shipment inspection can be put to full use.”

He said that the smuggling of 604 kilograms of shabu could have been prevented “if the amended administrative order was in existence at that time because there would have been a pre-shipment inspection.”

“If there was no delay and the amended AO was signed, we may not have been confronted with this smuggling of 604 kilos of shabu because it could have been caught immediately at source or country of origin,” Drilon said.

The minority leader explained that a pre-inspection shipment is already being done but is only limited to bulk cargo and non-containerized shipments as provided for in the Administrative Order No. 243-A entitled “Creating a System for the Bulk Cargo Clearance Enhancement Program of the Bureau of Customs”.

Bulk and break cargo accounts for 65 percent of the country’s total importation volume, while the remaining 35 percent refers to containerized cargoes, he added.

Drilon said that the program, which is now in its seventh year of implementation, has proven to be effective in curbing smuggling and corruption.

Hence, Drilon said there is a need to expand its coverage to include containerized cargoes, which are now being used to transport drugs and illegal goods.

Drilon said the pre-shipment inspection of containers is a “recognized way of thwarting smuggling,” as it will prevent the entry of illegal, fake, substandard and misdeclared goods into the country by stopping them at the country of origin.

If the AO is amended to cover containerized cargoes, Drilon expressed confidence that it can help minimize entry of drugs and other illegal and substandard goods, increase government revenue, and thwart smuggling and corruption.

“The BoC must realize the value of amending this administrative order in order to put a stop to the problem of smuggling and entry of shabu into our ports as soon as possible,” Drilon said.

Drilon said that the Senate Finance Committee has agreed on the importance of a pre-shipment inspection, vowing to provide funds for the pre-shipment inspection.

“They have agreed that it is worth the expense and the chair of the committee on finance agreed that we should be able to come up with a budget,” he concluded.

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