An insult to Customs

Cathay Pacific Airlines had replaced the toy plane that was smashed in NAIA Terminal 1. The owner of the smashed toy, Rachell Anne Ramos, shared on April 25 a photo of an Airbus A350-900 scale model gifted by Cathay Pacific. 

Ramos earlier posted on Facebook a story on how her a die-cast toy airplane was flagged at the NAIA Terminal 1 allegedly because of a “suspicious image”. The toy allegedly passed inspections and even subjected to the airport’s sniffing dogs. It was only because of the scrutinous eyes of a BOC personnel that the toy was flagged and to reduce the hassle, just allowed the toy plane to be smashed. Hence, instead of landing to the lap of the child Ramos wanted to gift the toy to, it just ended in the trash can.

The toy, however, was not replaced and it took Cathay Pacific to take the initiative and replace the same. Quite insulting, right? And more insulting — smugglings continue in the Philippines and the BOC has only sniffed, and confiscated, on a few of them. According to Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) Chairman, Jesus Lim Arranza,  the country is losing about P250 billion in terms of value-added tax annually due to smuggling based on a study it commissioned a few years ago.

The BOC, however, could do something better. To avoid instances like that of Ramos, the BOC can take the following steps:

  1. Conduct regular training and seminars for their officers to have deeper knowledge of the prohibited and restricted items, international trade, and customs procedures.
  2. Invest in modern and high-tech equipment to detect and identify suspicious objects, including toys or other items that may pose security threats. Customs should regularly maintain and upgrade the equipment to ensure its accuracy and efficiency.
  3. Establish clear and transparent guidelines for travelers. Customs should have standardized rules and procedures, and the guidelines should be readily available on their website or in print.
  4. Establish a grievance mechanism for travelers who may feel aggrieved or unfairly treated by Customs. This will give travelers an avenue to appeal or raise their concerns appropriately.

By following these steps, Customs can minimize the risk of false alarms, inconveniences, or complaints from travelers, while still effectively monitoring and controlling imports and exports.


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