With the enhanced cooperation between the Brunei Darussalam-Indo-nesia-Malaysia-Philip-pines East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) countries, the Bureau of Customs-Cagayan de Oro Port (BOC-CDO Port) seized on September 8 a vessel estimated to be P35 million worth of duties and taxes, and its cargoes for allegedly falsifying a special permit to operate in the BIMP-EAGA area.
Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said Villa Shipping Lines Inc., the owner of the 26-year-old Japan-built ship, used M/V Jake Vin-cent Seis to avail of the BIMP-EAGA privileges of not paying duties and taxes.
“The vessel’s opera-tion is limited within the country’s domestic bounds however, it sailed within the BIMP-EAGA area using a fake permit which is a “modus operandi” employed by some shipping lines,” the Customs chief added.
The vessel was repor-tedly carrying 1,450 metric tons of dried coconut copra from Indonesia and is supposed to be delivered to Davao Bay Coconut Oil Mills Inc. in Jimenez, Misamis Occidental when the BOC and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) team boarded the ship on August 28.
After diligently sear-ching the ship, the agents found a BIMP-EAGA special permit which was used to legitimize their activities.
“Customs then coordi-nated with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) who validated that the vessel’s special permit to operate in the BIMP-EAGA was fake. We asked them to present the proof of payment of the duties and taxes for the cargoes but the 19 Filipino crew could not give us any which led to the seizure of the vessel and the cargo,” Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Intelligence Officer II Alvin Y. Enciso said.
Port of Cagayan de Oro District Collector Jamail Marohomsalic explained “if the vessel is plying within the BIMP-EAGA route, the ship is covered by the Free Trade Agreement that would allow the vessel to deliver and pick up cargo within the four member countries— Brunei Darussalam, Indo-nesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. If it was imported for this purpose it would have been spared from paying the duties and taxes.”
“But if the ship was converted to travel only within domestic waters, they would have to get clearance from govern-ment agencies such as the MARINA and the BOC,” Mahoromsalic added.
Port of Cagayan de Oro District Collector Jamail Marohomsalic issued a warrant of seizure and detention upon the joint recommendation of Ozamiz Sub-port Collector Ma. Chona Sarte, CIIS, and the Enforcement and Security Service personnel.
Customs Commissioner Lapeña lauded the BOC Northern Mindanao District officials and personnel for this accomplishment, adding that the seizure of the M/V Jake Vincent Seis is in line with the directive of President Duterte to stop all forms of smuggling in the bureau.