MANILA: The Bureau of Customs filed smuggling-related complaints against six people who allegedly snuck in more than 400 pieces of Casio G-Shock watches with a total value of P7.4 million.
In the complaints filed with the Department of Justice, the BOC accused Zenaida Valencia, Jennifer Valencia, Edward Ochave, Clarisse Karingal, Genevieve Ochave and Edmund Discutido of violating Sections 3601 and 3602 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.
The smuggled items, which came in six “balikbayan” boxes, came from Bahrain and were seized last August.
The boxes were declared to contain personal effects such as shoes and clothing, beddings, groceries, candies and chocolates.
The watches were shipped on the same flight and on the same day through Forex U-Mac Bahrain and its counterpart, U-Mac Forex Cargo Philippines, the bureau said.
After receiving information that the shipments were misdeclared, the BOC’s Intelligence Group conducted a “100% physical inspection” of the boxes and found the watches inside.
Authorities said the misdeclaration was intended to evade payment of duties and taxes amounting to over P1 million.
“While we recognize that the Balikbayan Box is vital to millions of overseas Filipinos and their families in the Philippines, we cannot allow the abuse and misuse of this privilege to bring in goods of commercial quantity or contraband items,” said Customs Commissioner John Sevilla.
“Let this be a lesson to traders and sellers that by illegally concealing items meant for sale or prohibited items, you are not only taking risk by getting caught but you also delay other Balikbayan Boxes that are in the same batch,” he added.
Sevilla said that since 2001, the BOC has continually revamped its process for monitoring and inspecting balikbayan boxes following reports that these have been used to bring-in illegal items such as car parts and accessories, goods for sale and regulated drugs