Press Releases

Statement on SBMA’s cavalier dismissal of the need to strengthen customs enforcement efforts in Subic Bay

January 9th, 2023

By Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda

Salceda: SBMA’s self-admitted “nonchalance” over smuggling unacceptable; big well-known brands liable for anti-fencing law

The fact that the SBMA believes that it can be “nonchalant” in the face of legitimate concerns about smuggling through our ports shows the kind of institutional inertia that breeds corruption and kills local Philippine industries. 

The SBMA says it has apprehended all attempts to use the port as a smuggling conduit. That’s a bold claim to make: Just last month, if not for the initiative of a CSO, Sinag, several containers of smuggled agricultural products would not have been apprehended. 

Nonchalant in Mr. Paulino’s own words only means he does take his job seriously or does not appreciate its significance to the nation.

Probes as recently as 2020, 2021, and 2022 show that Subic is a haven for both technical and actual smuggling. 

We are now in possession of credible information that the Subic port undercharges tariffs per container van by just as much as 1/8th of the actual tariff dues, or in peso terms, some P100,000 per container van of imported meat instead of P800,000.

We are prepared to name names at the proper time. For now, we will protect our sources.

Suffice it to say, any government agency with some vestige of authority cannot call itself nonchalant or indifferent. Especially in the face of a monstrous, job-killing, and predatory enemy like large-scale smuggling. 

The Committee on Ways and Means will hear reports of smuggling in Subic one by one, per major product line, until we get to the bottom of all such issues — regardless of what SBMA wants or believes.

On purchase of smuggled meat products by big well-known brands

PD 1612 or the Anti-Fencing Law penalizes buying items that one should know is from crime, such as smuggling. 

We have sources pointing to well known brands in the meat industry procuring from smugglers. 

We will point them out in the proper time. The Ways and Means Committee will aggressively run after them. I will also be recommending changes to the IRR of that law, to complement and reconcile the visitorial powers of the police and the visitorial powers of the BOC under the CMTA. 

As always, the Committee will both try to catch perpetrators but also deal with the issue in a more long-term way through reforms in policy and government procedures.

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