Vessel seized at CDO port

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THE BUREAU of Customs (BoC) seized a vessel at the Port of Cagayan de Oro City (CDO last Sept. 8 over the use of fake permits, potentially evading P35 million in duties and taxes.

In a statement released yesterday, the BoC said Villa Shipping Lines, Inc. used M/V Jake Vincent Seis to illegally avail of the exemptions on duties and taxes under the BIMP-EAGA subregional grouping.

The Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) maintains special economic and cultural arrangements within specified parts of the four-member nations. For the Philippines, the identified areas are Mindanao and Palawan.

The BoC said the seizure comes on the heels of enhanced cooperation between the member countries.

“The vessel’s operation is limited within the country’s domestic bounds however, it sailed within the BIMP-EAGA area using a fake permit which is a ‘modus operandi’ employed by some shipping lines,” Customs Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña was quoted in the statement.

Customs officials issued a warrant of seizure and detention upon discovery of the fake permit.

“Customs then coordinated with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) who validated that the vessel’s special permit to operate in the BIMP-EAGA was fake. We asked them to present the proof of payment of the duties and taxes for the cargoes but the 19 Filipino crew could not give us any which led to the seizure of the vessel and the cargo,” Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Intelligence Officer II Alvin Y. Enciso said.

“If the vessel is plying within the BIMP-EAGA route, the ship is covered by the Free Trade Agreement that would allow the vessel to deliver and pick up cargo within the four-member countries. If it was imported for this purpose it would have been spared from paying the duties and taxes,” he added.

“But if the ship was converted to travel only within domestic waters, they would have to get clearance from government agencies such as the MARINA and the BoC.” — Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan