Sep 25, 2020

Customs bureau in Palawan denies anomaly accusations

(File photo)

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) at the Puerto Princesa City International Airport (PPCIA) denied allegations Monday they are imposing high tariffs without official receipts on the “personal effects” of tourists and are inspecting their baggage manually.

Speaking during the regular session of the City Council, BOC Palawan customs collector Alpha Grace Castro belied claims they were involved in “irregularities” at the PPCIA and assured the public they are “doing honest service.”

“Iyong Customs ay wala naman kaming ginagawang hindi maganda para sa mga turista natin and we are performing [lang] naman ‘yong aming duties which are mandated for us. Gusto naming linawin na walang katotohanan ‘yong mga issue na sinasabi nila. We are doing our functions and mandate which is revenue collection,” Castro said.

Castro said her agency is being accused of charging high taxes on tourists’ personal effects, imposing tariffs without the issuance of official receipts, and conducting baggage inspections manually which are not true.

She said accusations against them started on the first week of April after a couple from Incheon, Korea, brought in two bottles of Ballantine’s 30 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky which costs $382 or roughly P19,900, amounting to around P9,950 each.

Customs personnel Aldrin Cabiguen told the City Council that the two bottles were bought by the Korean couple from an international duty-free shop.

He pointed out duty-free shops usually sell items at half their original prices.

“Kaka-Google ko lang po, ang one bottle [ng Ballantine’s 30 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky] is P36,000 [meaning ang two bottles ay around P72,000]. [What they brought here], these are two bottles lang po, [‘yon na] ‘yong P19,000 [na nabili sa] duty-free. [Kung] based sa own experience po ang duty-free sa ibang bansa [ay] almost fifty percent ang discount,” said Cabiguen.

Castro said the P9,374 tariff they imposed on the two items was computed according to the Tariff Custom’s Code (TCC).

Castro noted they arrived at this amount by considering the items’ dutiable value (DV), together with custom’s duty (CD), landed cost (LC), and excise tax (ET) with specific tax (ST) and ad valorem tax (AVT), value-added tax (VAT), and the constant value of P30 for the Custom’s Documentary Stamp (CDS) payment.

They got the items’ total DV of P19,902.20 by simply converting the items’ dollar price from the invoice using the dollar-to-peso exchange rate which was P52.10 on the day the Korean couple arrived.

Multiplying the DV to the duty rate of Customs which is 15 percent, they arrived at the Custom’s Duty (CD) value of 2,985.33.

Adding altogether the DV, CD, and the CDS payment, they had the LC of P22,917.53.

LC is used to compute the excise tax, specific tax, AVT, and VAT. According to Castro, ET was computed by adding the P37.44 ST and the 3,184.85 AVT which amounted to P3,221.79.

The VAT was calculated through the LC which is P22,917.53 plus the P3,221.79 ET, then their sum multiplied to the current VAT rate of 12 percent. The VAT then equaled to P3,136.72, Castro said.

Castro reiterated that the total P9,374 tariff they imposed on the tourist couple was just the sum of the rounded values of CD, VAT, ET, and CDS.

Castro stated they issued proper receipts upon payment, but the couple was not able to get it as they were rushing to their destination.

Castro said the couple even doubted their official receipts because it was not issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

However, she pointed out that their official receipts are all under the Department of Finance (DOF) and not the BIR.

“Lahat ‘yon ay mayroong receipt. Ang problema lang ay hindi nila nakuha ‘yong resibo nila dahil nagmamadali sila. So gusto kong i-assure ‘yong public na lahat ng kino-collect na duties and taxes ng Customs ay mayroong official receipt ‘yon and it shall be duly remitted to the national government,” she said.

Castro also said they are only submitting to the mandate of their agency to scrutinize the baggage through proper and careful inspection.

According to her, manually inspecting the baggage of tourists is the best option they have now while waiting for the installation of the BOC’s own X-ray machine at the PPCIA.

She said they need to inspect the baggage carefully in order to determine the items inside because it is part of their job.

She said they are coordinating with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on how to go about the installation “to ensure” their “operations are not compromised,” Castro also said.

 “As I explained, kailangan ng Customs ‘yon na mag-inspect pero hindi naman pagha-halungkat. Ini-o-open natin para makita natin kung ano ang nasa loob noon. Ini-explain [naman] naminsa kanila na ‘Sorry sir, please bear with us kai wala pa pong x-ray.’ Kaya lang wala din kaming magagawa [kundi mag manual inspection], [dahil] kung hindi natin gagawin ‘yon, isang instance lang na [halimbawang] may nakalusot sa airport natin at may nangyari po, baka mas malaki pa ‘yong damage sa tourism natin,” Castro said.

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