BOC busted secret ‘ukay-ukay’ depot in Metro Manila

Agents of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Monday raided an underground central supply depot of used clothing or ‘ukay-ukay’ and counterfeit imported goods in Metro Manila and nearby provinces along Cuneta Avenue, Pasay City.

Neil Anthony Estrella, director of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), said agents conducted simultaneous raids on four buildings suspected of being used as clandestine warehouses for undetermined volumes of alleged smuggled items. They were armed with four Mission Orders and four Letters of Authority issued by Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon on March 9, 2017.

“We cannot give the 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.

Republic Act (RA) 4653 prohibits 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 said 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.

Apart from the ‘ukay-ukay’ stockpile, agents also uncovered huge stash of counterfeit products of original branded items sold in local and international markets. These included 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.

Estrella said BOC’s raids have been intensified as part of the campaign aimed at plugging tax leaks and snuffing out of all forms of smuggling as ordered by President Duterte.

Intelligence Officer Joel Pinawin, head of the raiding team, said no one from the owners of ‘ukay-ukay’ and of the counterfeit items came forward to ownership of the products.

“In the interest of justice, we will make sure that the owners will be personally invited to the BOC to provide necessary import documents,” Pinawin said.###