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13 June 2024, 05:07 AM

Commissioner Rubio Highlights Strengthened Anti-illicit Tobacco Measures at the NTA Summit

August 5, 2023

Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Bienvenido Y. Rubio underscored the BOC’s relentless campaign to combat illicit tobacco trade during his presentation at the International Tobacco Agricultural Summit held on August 3, 2023, in Taguig City. Commissioner Rubio emphasized the adoption of digital and data-driven processes as a pivotal strategy to strengthen supply chain integrity and ensure fair competition within the tobacco industry.

In his presentation, Commissioner Rubio expressed gratitude for the opportunity to represent the BOC and discussed the immense potential of the agricultural sector to generate revenues for the country in a competitive landscape.

Drawing on his personal connection to the industry, hailing from the Ilocos Region where tobacco is a cash crop and an essential driver of economic development, Commissioner Rubio stressed the importance of the topic and the impact of the BOC’s anti-smuggling efforts.

During the presentation, Commissioner Rubio showcased the BOC’s impressive record in seizing smuggled goods. In the first seven months of 2023 alone, the BOC conducted 661 operations, resulting in the seizure of smuggled goods with an estimated value of P30.5 billion, the highest recorded in the last five years. Specifically, the BOC seized 152 cases related to cigarette and tobacco products worth P1.89 billion in the same period.

To combat illegal trade effectively, the BOC relies on advanced digital tools and data-driven processes. Commissioner Rubio outlined several initiatives, including the use of the BOC X-Ray Inspection Project for non-intrusive inspections, continuous enhancement of the BOC Risk Management System, deployment of water patrol assets, and extensive implementation of the Electronic Tracking of Containerized Cargo System (E-TRACC). These measures aim to detect contrabands and misdeclared goods, prevent smuggling, and secure container movements.

In addition to technology-driven measures, the BOC ensures close partnerships with national, regional, and international Law Enforcement Agencies and Regulatory Agencies for intelligence sharing and information exchange.

Commissioner Rubio proudly shared the BOC’s 5-Point Priority Program, focusing on digitalizing customs processes, surpassing revenue collection targets, simplifying procedures, facilitating secure trade, curbing smuggling, and prioritizing the welfare of BOC employees.

In his closing remarks, Commissioner Rubio reaffirmed the Bureau’s commitment to continued vigilance against illicit trade, protecting the country’s borders, and being a trusted partner to businesses and traders.

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