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Mandatory inspection of containerized cargo urged

By: Ronnel W. Domingo, March 11th, 2013 04:25 AM

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine unit of Intertek, a global cargo inspection-survey company, is calling for mandatory inspection of all containerized shipments to stem the rising incidence of technical smuggling of traditionally bulk or break bulk cargo like sugar, rice and steel.

Tomas Drilon, Intertek general manager for government and trade services in the Philippines, said in a statement that Malacañang should expand the scope of shipment inspection to include containerized cargo, which accounts for 35 percent of dutiable goods bound for the Philippines.

Drilon said there was a pending administrative order providing for such a move that “has been approved in principle” and which the Bureau of Customs endorsed as early as September last year.

The currently effective Administrative Order No. 243-A, issued in 2009, limits ship inspection to only bulk and break bulk cargo.

Break bulk cargo refers to goods that are stored in boxes, bales, and pallets while bulk cargo are goods that are loaded directly to a vessel’s hold by means of shoveling, scooping, forking or mechanically conveyed or pumped.

Drilon said this limit was why in recent years, there was a marked increase in technical smuggling of traditional bulk or break bulk cargo like sugar, rice and steel. The goods are loaded in containers to escape detection.

“We have observed that traditionally bulk/break bulk cargo such as wheat, rice, steel and chemicals are now being brought into the country in containers, perhaps in an effort to avoid detection with the current bulk/break bulk inspection program,” Drilon added.

Intertek’s call comes in the wake of a Senate investigation of rice smuggling in Subic that involved at least 1,000 containers.

Drilon said this was one glaring example of how the AO 243-A’s limited coverage was being abused.

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