Customs office in Taganak to curb smuggling
Published on: Tuesday, August 13, 2019
By: Nikko Fabian
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Zamboanga City: Filipino traders eagerly wanting to continue doing business with Sabah via the traditional barter trade system are not losing hope despite facing hurdles that prevented them from operating in full swing.

Describing as “light at the end of the tunnel”, members of the Zambasulta Traders Association told Daily Express Saturday the Bureau of Customs (BOC ) will establish a satellite office in Turtle Islands (Taganak) in Tawi-Tawi .

Recalling a report article published in a national newspaper early this year, Zambasulta said BOC announced that the creation of its satellite office was opted to minimise or prevent the entry of smuggled goods in Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi or ZamBaSulTa area.

In the January report, the members said Custom Collector for Zamboanga peninsula Segundo Barte clearly stated that BOC already selected the personnel to man the office which is targeted to be operational this year.

Barte also in the report confided that the island is very strategic to establish a Customs office since it is near the entrance to Sandakan Bay in Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia.

“If we cannot stop smuggling, at least we can minimise their activities with the presence of a Customs office in the island,” Barte said.

“I am carrying a strict instruction from our commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero to eradicate smuggling activities in this part of the country,” Barte said adding the island is being used by smugglers  as the transit point for the smuggling of goods including turtle eggs apart from transit point for illegal migration into Malaysia.

BOC personnel and policemen will not find it difficult in the implementation of the customs tariff and duties, since they can be assisted by policemen in the island, he said.

There is a municipal police station on the island, Barte added.

Elements of the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard are always in the vicinity ready to assist BOC to implement their mandate, he added.

The establishment of a BOC office in Turtle Islands will also boost our collection effort for this district, he stressed.

Replying to a question in a telephone conversation from Zamboanga City Friday (August 9), Barte said he is still awaiting further advice from Manila as to when the satellite office will be established.

Meanwhile, Turtle Islands Administrator Dr Mhel Sali Sali said the small island municipality is surrounded by the Sulu Sea and the largest of the seven islands comprising Turtle group of  Islands.

With the establishment of the Custom satellite office, he said the dream of newly elected Mayor Mohd Faizal Jamalul to make the municipality the gateway for barter trade in the near future is now not far from reality.

“Next to the BOC satellite office, we are also hoping to see the setting up of the immigration, quarantine and security outposts...we need the CIQS facilities to smoothen the barter trade operation in the area,” he said.

Sali said Zambasulta members and other traders fully support Faizal’s initiative to make Turtle Islands the gateway for barter trade in Mindanao.

“We were made to understand that Mayor Mohd Faizal will start work for the expansion project of its existing jetty in the area and other facilities,” Sali added.



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