HOUSE Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) praised Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio for the successful efforts of the Bureau of Customs to apprehend some P35.4 billion in shipments of Methamphetamine or shabu in the major ports of Subic and Manila International Container Port (MICP).
Salceda congratulated Rubio, saying that the two separate interdiction efforts were “the largest ever catch by any Customs Commissioner.”
“In Subic, they caught some 560 kilos, or a combined worth of around P3.9 billion based on the per-kilo estimates of the Dangerous Drugs Board. In Manila International Container Port, they caught around 4.45 tons, which is close to P31.5 billion in value. So, you’re looking at a combined value of around P35.4 billion.”
“The lethal dose of meth is around 200 mg. So, what was caught is enough to kill 25 million Filipinos all at once. This is a serious accomplishment on the part of the BOC, but it also signifies that there is a serious systemic problem.”
“The shipment in Subic was caught hidden in tea bags, while the one in MICP was hidden in a shipment of beef jerky,” Salceda said.
Salceda, whose committee oversees the Bureau of Customs, says that “we must be relentless in the fight against the use of our ports for criminal activities.”
“If criminal syndicates think that they can use our ports to ship shabu into the country, then they probably believe that anything can pass through our ports.”
“So, we have to be stricter and more vigilant against smuggling, because if drugs can come in, pretty much anything can come in.”
Tax panel wants expanded intel gathering, enforcement capacity for BOC
Salceda says that “the Committee on Ways and Means is working with the BOC to fight smuggling in goods such as tobacco, agricultural products, and petroleum.”
In a speech yesterday to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Salceda already flagged that the country’s lack of petroleum refining capacity has resulted in “nearly doubling our petroleum import bill from 11 billion to 19 billion USD.”
“Cheap smuggled excisable products will kill important industries such as refining, and will also harm collections of taxes in licit tobacco and alcohol. It will also snuff the life out of the domestic agriculture sector before our farmers have the chance to prepare to compete in the world market.”
Salceda says that the best investment that Customs can make “is in intelligence gathering, since that is how you catch them. By tapping into their networks.”
“You only know what to catch if you know what’s coming. So, intel gathering is everything in Customs enforcement.”
Salceda says he supports additional funding for intelligence gathering efforts of the BOC “as it clearly leads to capture.”
Salceda adds that he also supports expanding the capacity of the BOC to monitor private ports, especially for petroleum.
“Smuggling and drug trafficking of this scale can only c