Customs seize ‘misdeclared’ luxury cars in MisOr terminal

TAGOLOAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/7 June) – With the hope of salvaging their “tainted reputation” after the Bigcas scandal, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) showed local reporters here Tuesday the contents of two container vans they flagged as “misdeclared.”

Held at the Mindanao International Container Terminal (MCT), the 40-footer container vans yielded two Mercedes Benz sports coupes, one Dodge Durango, one Ford Expedition and four Toyota Vits compact cars. All vehicles had no license plates. BOC officials estimated the total market value of the vehicles at Php10 million.

In a press conference held immediately after, BOC deputy commissioner Horacio Suansing said the vans were misdeclared as industrial parts and supplies.

“These got busted because the cubic measurements don’t jibe with the weight. And because these are misdeclared items, it’s an outright smuggling case,” Suansing said.

He said the vehicles were consigned to a certain JB and A Enterprises. After preliminary investigation, BOC found out that the company has fictitious business addresses and was not accredited as a legitimate importer of vehicles in the customs database.

Suansing said that customs regional director Anju Nereo C. Castigador will be filing warrants of seizure right after the press conference. “Then he will check the chassis numbers of the vehicles if these were also stolen like in the Bigcas case,” Suansing said.

When asked where BOC planned to file the smuggling case, Suansing said they already have a program where their office will file it directly with the Department of Justice in Manila.

“The Bigcas case served as an awakening call for us to strengthen our efforts to stop smuggling,” he said.

Authorities have discovered “hot” cars and motorcycles from smuggling suspect Lynard Allan Bigcas’s home in Talakag, Bukidnon and Barangay Kauswagan in Cagayan de Oro City. At least
seven of the vehicles found in Bigcas’s possession were stolen from the United States, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Suansing said the revamp of all the personnel at the MCT will mark the beginning of weeding out undesirables in their department.

“I have recommended for all MCT personnel to undergo investigation through our Internal Inquiring and Prosecution Division. We have to do something about our image,” he said.

Acting MCT customs collector Castigador, who replaced lawyer Noah Dimaporo, will be checking on the systems in place and to make full use of the facilities in the ports to arrest the smuggling operations in the local ports, Suansing said.

For his part, Castigador hopes that with a new team in place at the MCT, BOC will be more effective in arresting smuggling operations in the port as well as reach their collection target for the year.

“With our new team we’re hoping to redeem the tarnished image of the bureau,” Castigador said. (Cong B. Corrales / MindaNews)