CIDG to file charges vs Davao ‘ukay’ importer

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 31 Oct) – The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Region 12 is set to file illegal importation charges against a Davao City-based trading company over the recovery of around P1-million worth of imported used clothing or “ukay-ukay” from a seized container shipment consigned to the firm.

Senior Supt. Manuel Cornel, CIDG-12 director, said Thursday they found the illegal items during the opening and inspection at the Makar port here on Wednesday afternoon of a 40-foot container van from Singapore that they seized along the national highway two weeks ago.

He said they opened the container van along with personnel from the Bureau of Customs (BoC) by destroying the padlocks.

“As we had suspected, it contained imported used clothing instead of just blankets and comforters as cited in the customs declaration,” the police official said.

Operatives from the CIDG and the police highway patrol group held the container van last Oct. 20 while it was being moved aboard a carrier truck along the national highway in Barangay Labangal.

The carrier truck has just left the Makar port compound when it was apprehended on suspicions that it was carrying some illegal items or contraband.

Cornel said an informant initially tipped them that the shipment, which was consigned to the We Pick Me Marketing based in Davao City, supposedly contained illegally imported “ukay-ukay.”

He said they held the container van at the CIDG regional headquarters at the Camp Fermin Lira for about a week but later decided to transfer it to the custody of the BoC.

At around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Cornel said they jointly opened the container van and initially found several sacks containing blankets and comforters as cited in its declaration.

But he said they later found around 10 large sacks hidden in the inner layers of the van that contained imported used clothing.

“The bulk of the shipment was actually the used clothing and not the declared blankets,” said Cornel, who initially placed the value of the illegal items at P1 million.

The official said they are now preparing to file charges against the shipment’s owner for violation of Sections 3601 and 3602 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.

Section 3601 of the code refers to the unlawful importation or smuggling of any article while Section 3602 cites the violation on the shipment and attempts for the entry of imported or exported articles by means of any false or fraudulent invoice, declaration, affidavit, letter, paper and false statements.

He said the consignee also violated the provisions of Republic Act 4653 that declared as a national policy the prohibition on the “commercial importation of textile articles commonly known as used clothing and rags” to “safeguard the health of the people and maintain the dignity of the nation.”

“We’re giving special attention on the entry of these illegal products because many legitimate businessmen have been complaining of the undue competition brought by the proliferation of ukay-ukay stores in the area,” Cornel said.

Lawyer Aniceto Sanchez, deputy port collector of the BoC, said they agreed to open and inspect the contents of the container van after the consignee consented to them.

He said the recovered imported used clothing will immediately be subjected to a warrant of seizure and detention.

But Sanchez said the other items, specifically the declared blankets, will be released to the trading company.