BOC officers now have police powers vs smuggling, entry of illegal drugs
MANILA, Philippines — Bureau of Customs (BOC) officers now have police powers to go after smugglers as well as importers and exporters of restricted goods, including illegal drugs.
Customs Administrative Order (CAO) No. 3-2019 signed by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero this month covers the provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) on customs jurisdiction and exercise of police authority.
The CMTA had granted police powers to BOC to beef up its border protection capabilities and prevent smuggling, among other customs fraud.
Under CAO 3-2019, the following were authorized to exercise police authority to enforce anti-smuggling laws: BOC officials, district collectors, deputy district collectors, police officers, agents, inspectors, and guards.
Besides personnel of the country’s second biggest tax-collection agency, the BOC commissioner can also authorize the grant of police powers to organic officers and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and other national law enforcement agencies.
Also, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) officials can be extended police powers “on all cases falling within the regular performance of their duties, when payment of internal revenue taxes is involved,” CAO 3-2019 reads.
These police powers can be exercised by customs officers in all premises used for customs purposes, free zones, as well as “all lands, seas and air within Philippine territory.”
Duly-authorized customs officers and deputized officers can exercise the following police powers: power of seizure; authority to require assistance and information; authority to enter properties; authority to search dwelling house; authority to search vessels or aircrafts and persons or goods conveyed therein; non-liability for damages; authority to search vehicles, other carriers, persons and animals; authority to search persons arriving from foreign countries; customs control over goods; control over premises used for customs purposes; special surveillance for protection of customs revenue and prevention of smuggling; and trespass or obstruction of customs premises.
These police powers cover all importations and export shipments suspected to violate CMTA and other related laws.
As such, BOC personnel can not only stop suspected smuggling of goods and prohibited imports and exports found anywhere in the country, but also catch suspected carriers and persons in possession of these illegal products.
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