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Balikbayan may face jail time over 'technical smuggling'


A balikbayan may face up to six years in jail for allegedly misdeclaring P3-million worth of used car and motorcycles as household goods and personal effects, GMA News' Jun Veneracion reported on Balitanghali on Tuesday.

The report said the Bureau of Customs (BOC) discovered, after an X-ray inspection, that the cargo consigned to a certain Efrell Lopez actually contained three secondhand motorcycles and a used car.

According to Customs Deputy Commissioner Ariel Nepomuceno, the suspect's misdeclaration of items is a clear case of "technical smuggling."

If proven guilty, Lopez may be jailed for three years up to six years, the report said, citing Nepomuceno.

"I-implement natin dapat ang batas, ang problema diyan may kaukulang parusa 'yan kapag natuloy ang kaso at napatunayan na siya ay nagkasala mahina ang tatlong taon na pagkakakulong diyan hanggang anim na taon bukod pa 'yung penalty or fines," Nepomuceno said.

The BOC official also noted that the incident will also serve as a lesson for other balikbayans, or Filipinos returning to the Philippines from abroad, that they cannot import their used vehicles without proper documents and permits.

Jaybee Cometa, head of BOC's X-Ray Inspection Project, advised balikbayans to know the laws and rules concerning shipments.

"Ignorance of the law excuses no one. Babala po sa ating mga kababayan, 'yung mga returning residents, na bago po tayo magparating ng mga ganung bagay, alamin muna talaga nating mabuti. Nandito naman po yung Customs para mapagtanungan ninyo anu-ano yung mga requirements," he said. —John Ted Cordero/KBK, GMA News