MANILA — Illegal drugs topped the commodities seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in 2022, just as it said it strengthened border control efforts and mechanisms against illicit trade this year.
In a release, the Department of Finance (DOF), which supervises the bureau, said around P10.2 billion worth of illegal drugs were confiscated last year.
Counterfeit products reached P2.45 billion, while smuggled agricultural and cigarette products hit P1.9 billion and P458 million, respectively.
"To protect Philippine borders from smuggled goods, the BOC seized P15.65 billion worth of illegal goods from July to December 2022 through its intensified anti-smuggling operations," said the DOF.
DOF said the BOC was able to improve trade facilitation through the National Single Window (NSW) system.
NSW streamlines data to fulfill all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements.
"These efforts have resulted in faster processing of import and export documentation and increased trade compliance, transparency, as well as convenience, which addressed inefficiencies in the system," the agency said.
DOF also strengthened its internal cleansing measures. In 2022, it said it was able to issue 24 show-cause orders to erring employees.
A total of 175 individuals under the agency were probed and 5 were charged with administrative cases last year, said the DOF.
In August, BOC said it is still waiting for an investigation on smuggling and hoarding, including the possibility of public officials being involved in these.
BOC Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio said the Department of Justice (DOJ) would help build up the cases on individuals involved in the smuggling and hoarding of goods.
He said he would file cases against personnel from his agency found involved in rice smuggling.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. earlier this year ordered the BOC to strengthen its efforts against rice hoarding and illegal importation.