Customs Davao police commander recommended for relief for alleged P2.5 extra settlement “tara”

mar 14, 2014

The customs police district commander of the Bureau of Customs Port of Davao Major Camilo Cascolan was recommended for relief by the port district collector Ernesto Aradanas due to allegation that the former “received an extra settlement of the P2.5 million” in exchange for release of 15 units of dumptruck on undervalued declaration of import duties and taxes.

In press conference Wednesday, Aradanas said that Cascolan though is still serving in his post while awaiting decision of the Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) of the BOC Manila headquarters to which the recommendation for Cascolan’s relief was addressed to.

“We’re still awaiting decision of the Enforcement Group,” the district collector said.

In the press conference paper given to reporters, the accusation was described as “a serious and grave allegation” though “this Port has no concrete information on it.”

Last February 24 a shipment consisting of 15 units of dumptruck (DAYUN brand) arrived at the port of Davao from China.

It was consigned to Goldtech International Machineries Trading Corp. through a licensed customs broker named Christ Lamb Vicente.

Four days after, in February 28, the consignee declared the subject shipment as 15 units of dumptruck under Import Entry NO. 02405-14 with an attached Asean-China Free Trade Agreement (ACTFTA) form. It declared duties and taxes in the total amount of P3,188,489.

On March 3, 2014 the ESS-Davao headed by Cascolan conducted a “spotcheck” to examine the shipment of Goldtech before it was released from the port.

“During the 100% examination no discrepancy was found with regards to the description and the quantity as declared by the consignee. Consequently, the 15 units dumptruck was cleared for release by the assessment division after reclassifying the same resulting to additional duties and taxes in the aggregate amount of P890,292,” BOC Davao said.

The additional amount increased the total duties and taxes to be paid by the consignee to P4,078,781.

Earlier, last Feb. 21, Aradanas ordered the seizure of four units of brand new Toyota Prado vehicles from United Arab Emirates which were illegally released by customs officials of the Dadiangas (General Santos City) subport to be bound to North Harbor in Manila.

Said shipment consigned to Ayumi Rose Trading is supposed to have a retail value of US$56,000 per unit while the claimant declared it at only US$23,000 per unit.

The shipment is still held at the North Harbor.

The release caused for the relief of five sub-port officials.

BOC Davao said that Ayumi has considered filing a motion to quash the warrant of seizure and detention (WSD) with their expressed waiver relieving the district collector from any liability that maybe attached in connection with the WSD once the motion is granted.

“Although Ayumi has denied any deliberate intention on their part to disregard existing customs rules and regulations and undermine the authority of the district collector… it is given a chance to settle to seizure case with the approval of the Commissioner, pending the proceedings, provided that the claimant is able to show lack of fraud in the importation of their shipment,” BOC Davao further said.

During the second press conference that Aradanas held since he assumed his post last Feb. 3, many issues were responded.

Asked if he could finally stop smuggling at customs, Aradanas, a retired brigadier general, said “no.”

He laboured to add: “It can’t happen overnight. This would take years. Swertihin na tayo if we can stop it in five years’ time.”

He pointed out that the problem is a complex one that needs participation of all stakeholders involved and dealing with the customs, inside and outside.

He added there is an “internal audience” that must be considered in the current reform moves but “once society will not confirm these, it will take us a long time. This is the reality if we allow ourselves for the things in time to change.”

He also defined tara as the amount that does not go to the government.

He said that a long time ago tara technically meant taxes and duties given to the government and through the years it had changed in meaning, which means the “extra money” that goes to “collection outside.”

Others long dealing with customs said that tara evolved to be a bribe money for under-the-table deals given out of seeking approval from corrupt customs officials for special treatment such as undervaluing of shipment, non- or misdeclaration. This results to technical smuggling and loss of government revenues.

Aradanas vowed to make “radical innovation” that the other side of stakeholders like the brokers of importers and exporters will pay to the government and “no more extra money to be given to collection outside”.

“It’s not an easy job. It’s a job to be done by all of us,” he told reporters. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

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