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The Puerto Princesa City Council has summoned representatives from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) to its regular session to explain allegations of irregularities in the baggage inspection and taxes imposed on tourists’ personal effects.

Councilor Jimmy Carbonell in an interview with the media Monday said he heard about some foreign nationals who complained against the manual inspection of their baggage by personnel of the BOC at the Puerto Princesa City International Airport (PPCIA), including alleged fines imposed on “personal things”.

“Gusto nating malaman sa kanila kung ano ‘yong totoong proseso, ganoon din sa CAAP dahil ang pagkaka-alam natin ay mayroon silang X-ray machine na dapat doon na dadaan ‘yong mga bagahe ng mga panauhin nila dito. Aalamin natin kung ano talaga ‘yong totoong sitwasyon doon kung ito ang X-ray machine ay nagagamit at ito bang pagta-tax nila ng mga personal items ng mga turista ay naayon din doon sa customs tariff code,” Carbonell said.

Carbonell expressed concern that the issues may affect the city’s tourism industry.

Aileen Cynthia Amurao, city tourism officer, confirmed that her office received a report from a tourism agency regarding the allegations.

“Medyo na-upset talaga ‘yong mga turista every now and then na hinahalughog ‘yong mga gamit nila, dahil siyempre ‘yong mga personal things nila.  We do hope na mai-straighten up natin kung ano man ‘yong hindi magandang practice dati sa airport. Ako naman kasi very confident ako with the customs, with the immigration na they are also doing their job kasi nga nasa government ‘yan and we also really need to take care of our immigration and customs law. Hindi ko alam kung papaniwalaan ko ‘yong report kaya we are still in the process of gathering more data, [and] more information para ma-concretize natin,” Amurao said

“Meron kasing mga verbal na nakakarating sa atin [dati] pero hindi nga natin ‘yan pinansin dahil I am pretty confident naman with our counterparts diyan na they are doing their job. Hindi ko akalain talaga na merong ganito kalalim… hindi ko pa ngayon masabi kung ‘yan is one form of extortion,” she added.

Amurao said she is coordinating with all the agencies to address the issues.