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Customs turns over 23 ‘seized’ rubber boats to NDRRMC

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People wade through a flooded street under heavy rains as they are evacuated from their homes in the village of Tumana, Marikina town, in suburban Manila on August 7, 2012, after torrential rains inundated most of the capital. Torrential rains brought the Philippines capital to a standstill on August 7 forcing at least 20,000 people to flee their homes as floodwaters covered half the sprawling city, authorities said. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Aug 9 (Mabuhay) – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has turned over 23 rubber boats to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) to be used for its rescue operations.

“Kahapon, I ordered the turnover of 23 rubber boats [sa] NDRRMC. Yesterday pinadala ko doon,” Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon said.

Biazon said the rubber boats were considered seized items after they were abandoned by an importer who could not pay the required dues.

Biazon earlier said that the BOC will conduct an inventory of confiscated goods which have undergone appropriate processes and procedures and are available for donation.

Aside from the rubber boats, he said they also have used clothes and lumber available for donation to the Department of Social and Welfare Development.

DOF urged to process release of items

Vice President Jejomar Binay has also asked the Department of Finance (DOF) to process the release of items seized by the BOC so that these may be used for the government’s relief efforts.

In a letter to Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Binay recommended that the goods confiscated by the BOC be immediately distributed to those who were recently affected by heavy rains.

“In view of the devastation caused by torrential rains in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, I recommend we take immediate steps to release rice, food items, clothing and other similar items seized by the Bureau of Customs to the concerned government agencies for immediate distribution to the evacuees,” Binay said in the letter.

Binay had specifically cited the 420,000 sacks of white Indian rice and 90 container vans of Vietnam rice illegally brought into the country through the Subic Freeport Zone.

Senators have already begun investigating the alleged smuggling attempt and also recommended that the rice just be donated to the poor or calamity victims.

Biazon, however, said these sacks of rice were subject of litigation. “The shipper is claiming that rice. Under appeal siya,” he said.

He likewise explained that the donation of seized goods must undergo a process. He said that after seized goods are forfeited, they must undergo bidding.  After two failed biddings, it is only then can they be donated to a specific agency.

But he said if the government wants the goods to be released without payment of duties and tax, clearance from the DOF is needed.

“[So] people calling for donations by the BOC I hope would also understand that there are processes involved here,” he said. (MNS)

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