MANILA, MAY 12, 2008
(STAR) By Iris C. Gonzales - Officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) assured President Arroyo that the agency would step-up its efforts against smuggling.

This as Malacañang expressed concern on a possible surge in agricultural product smuggling following recent crackdown on illegal shipments into the country of imported rice and other basic commodities.

BOC commissioner Napoleon Morales said the agency would exert efforts to sustain its April collections of P21.7 billion.

Morales said the agency continues with its campaign against smuggling, adding that its anti-smuggling arm has translated in additional collections of P40 million.

The BOC, through the Run After the Smugglers (RATS) Program, filed last week three cases involving 11 personalities.

The BOC also filed administrative charges against four BOC employees for gross neglect of duties in connection with the diversion of steel coils estimated to be worth P240 million and the alleged release of unmarked flour consigned to Double Excellence Enterprise in January.

The BOC reached its monthly revenue target of P21.73 million after it collected P21.76 billion in April, the first time this year that Customs met its monthly collection target.

Cumulative collections for the first four months of the year have reached P70.64 billion, up from last year’s January-April performance by P13.22 billion or 23 percent.

Morales is optimistic that the April collections would trigger the start of positive collections and higher monthly surpluses for the rest of the year and that the BOC would be able to recover the shortfall incurred in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the BOC-NAIA Collection District surpassed its collection target for April.

BoC-NAIA district collector Carlos So said the agency’s actual collection reached P1.478 billion in April, P348 million higher than the P1.130 billion for an excess of P348 million target.

The actual collection of BoC-NAIA from January 1-April 30 totaled P5.315 billion, P1.055 billion higher4 than the target of P4.260 billion.

BoC-NAIA remained number one among the three collection districts of Metro Manila as it garnered a positive revenue collection by registering a 30.8 percent increase. MICP registered a 0.1 percent increase in revenue collection, while Port of Manila registered a 24 percent drop in revenue collection.

So said the positive revenue collection is an indication that his deputy collectors and the rank-and-file are doing their best to meet the assigned target.

He added that his men remained focused in their respective duties despite the recent events that have put the Bureau of Customs under clouds of suspicion.

“I always tell my men not to be distracted by the negative opinion the public has thrown against Customs. I told them to focus their attention and energy in attaining our goal. The response is positive as indicated by the revenue collection. Figures don’t lie. NAIA Collection District has always maintained its consistency, and I am optimistic that this will be the trend for 2008,” So said. — With Rudy Santos

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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