A June 5, 2012 press release from the Department of Finance, Bureau of Customs
Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon issued Customs Special Order No. 24-2012 creating the task force “OPLAN BAKLAS.” The task force would expand the Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) anti-smuggling efforts by scrutinizing the documents of its current list of accredited importers to detect any fabricated entries possibly made by “fly-by-night” or fictitious companies.
“In our many seizures of illegally imported goods, we encountered some of these importers to be non-existent, although accredited with the Bureau of Customs,” Biazon said, adding that, “The BOC list of accredited importers has been in existence for years already. With our discovery of non-existent and fictitious importers, we will now carefully scrutinize the documents of each accredited importer to validate and verify their actual existence.”
The BOC’s importers accreditation is done by the Interim Customs Accreditation and Registration Unit (ICARE) under lawyer Rhea Gregorio. The unit used to be under the BOC’s Revenue Collection and Monitoring Group (RCMG) during the time of former Customs Commissioner Angellito Alvarez. Under the BOC’s current leadership, however, ICARE was transferred to the Intelligence Group (IG) under Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim as part of the BOC’s organizational reforms to streamline its operations and enhance revenue collections.
The task force is divided into three groups, the Reconciliation Team led by Ms. Basilisa Absalon, the Filtering Team led by Mr. Ramon Reyes, and the Evaluation Team led by Mr. Roberto Salvacion. The Task Force’s implementation of OPLAN BAKLAS brings with it higher expectations from the BOC. Biazon is anticipating the number of cases filed against alleged smugglers to rise once the task force’s operations go into full swing.
Also, the task force is expected to provide the bureau with a more thorough view of operational details utilized by smugglers and their cohorts giving BOC officials a better idea of how they could counter smuggling tactics in the future.