AGENTS of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) yesterday raided a suspected underground central supply depot of used clothing or ‘ukay-ukay’ in Metro Manila and nearby provinces along Cuneta Avenue, Pasay City.
Director Neil Anthony L. Estrella of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) reported that the bust yielded several tons of used clothing or ‘ukay-ukay’ packed in yellow bales marked with Chinese characters and stashed in almost every unit of 3rd up to 7th floor of the 7-storey building located at No. 159 Cuneta Avenue, Pasay City.
“We cannot give an exact value of the seized used clothing or ‘ukay-ukay’ at the moment, but it is in great volume that could provide endless stocks (of that banned importations) in the supply chain within Metro Manila and in nearby provinces,” Estrella said.
In the Philippines, it is a national policy of the Government, as defined in Republic Act (RA) 4653, to prohibit the importation of used clothing, rags, or ‘ukay-ukay’ in commercial quantity to safeguard the health of the people and maintain the dignity of the nation.
Estrella bared that BOC agents conducted four (4) simultaneous raids in the area covering four buildings that are suspected used as clandestine warehouses for undetermined volume of various hoard of alleged smuggled ‘ukay-ukay’ and counterfeit imported items that are subject of warrant of seizure and detention pursuant to the provisions of RA 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) of 2016.
He said that apart from the ‘ukay-ukay’ stockpile, Customs agents also uncovered (in all units of the three other buildings raided) huge stash of counterfeit products of original branded items sold in local and international markets.
Estrella said that BOC’s raids are crucial anti-smuggling actions behind its relentless campaigns aimed at plugging out of tax leaks and snuffing out of all forms of smuggling as desired by President Duterte.
Both smuggling activities and trading of counterfeit products by unscrupulous businessmen have dire negative impacts to the Philippine economy which the BOC, through Commissioner Nicanor E. Faeldon, avidly desires to be significantly fixed on time.
“Commissioner Faeldon has tasked our agents to implement the visitorial power of the Commissioner of Customs pursuant to Title II (Chapter 2, Section 224 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
“Moreover, they (BOC agents) were covered and armed with four Mission Orders (MO) and four Letters of Authority (LOA), all issued by the Commissioner on March 9, 2017.,” Estrella said.
Quoting from LOAs, Estrella cited that the buildings raided by BOC agents, with the support and coordination from Pasay City Police and Barangay Officials in the area, were at No. 159 Cuneta Avenue (subject of LOA-03-09-101-2017 and MO-03-09-2017-818); No. 160 Cuneta Avenue (subject of LOA-03-09-100-2017 and MO-03-09-217-817); No. 119 Cuneta Avenue (subject of LOA-03-09-98-2017 and MO-03-09-2017-815);, and No. 115 Cuneta Avenue (subject of LOA-03-09-99-2017 and MO-03-09-2017-816) , all in Pasay City.
Intelligence Officer Joel Pinawin, head of the raiding team, reported to Estrella that the raids in almost all units of 4 buildings yielded counterfeit items in direct violation of provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines.
The counterfeit items of branded products discovered in the three buildings, Pinawin reported, are: Birkenstock, Lebron Nike, Vans, Sanuk, Havaianas, Ipanema Nike, Havaianas Fitflop, Sandugo, Versace, Nike Jordan, Adidas, Crocs, Star Wars (pokemon toys), Puma footwear, and Nike emblems.
Pinawin reported that no one from the owners of ‘ukay-ukay’ and of the counterfeit items came forward on spot and laid ownership claims.
“In the interest of justice, we will make sure that the owners will be personally invited to BOC to provide necessary import documents,” he said.