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Customs warns disposed cigarettes pose health hazard

The Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Port of Zamboanga warned the public against buying cigarettes destroyed and disposed of by the agency. Mike Lanza, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service chief of BOC-Zamboanga, said Saturday that they spray the confiscated smuggled cigarettes with pesticides. BOC-Zamboanga led the destruction at a sanitary landfill in Barangay Salaan here on Friday. Four 10-wheeler dump trucks made six trips each to bring the smuggled cigarettes to the landfill. ‘Hundreds of people were waiting to salvage packs of cigarettes,’ Lanza said. ‘The drivers of the dump trucks had to stop to avoid accidents.’ Lanza said they sought police assistance for crowd control. A second round of destruction was made on Saturday. Arthur Sevilla, BOC-Port of Zamboanga acting district collector, said it will take them between three and five days to destroy 19,419 master cases and 667 reams of confiscated cigarettes worth about PHP1.4 billion. The BOC learned of enterprising individuals who pay the scavengers PHP5 to PHP10 for each pack of cigarettes they can recover. ‘They sell the cigarettes to community sundry stores at cheaper prices,’ he added. Lanza noted that although the cigarettes were drenched in water and repeatedly crushed by heavy equipment, there may still be packs that managed to stay dry. Improved performance Meanwhile, the BOC welcomed the report of the World Bank Logistics Performance Index (LPI) which cited the country’s significant improvement in trade facilitation and customs performance. The LPI, which measures countries’ ability to trade goods across borders with speed and reliability, reported that the Philippines moved up 17 places from 60th in 2018 to 43rd spot this year out of 139 countries. The Philippines also ranked 59th in Customs performance this year, up from 85th in 2018. The survey, conducted Sept. 6 to Nov. 5 last year, consulted logistics professionals to assess how easy or difficult it is to trade manufactured goods with various countries. Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio said the improved ranking proves the effectiveness of the Bureau’s trade facilitation program. ‘The latest results of the World Bank Logistics Performance Index prove that the BOC is on the right track as regards trade efficiency,’ he said in a statement on Saturday. ‘We shall continue these trade facilitation efforts while implementing new measures to maximize the performance of Customs processes. We will continue to automate our systems and processes, computerize our work, and modernize our facilities and procedures. We are setting our goals towards the achievement of our priority programs under the guidance of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr,’ Rubio added.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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