THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) told a Congressional panel that major ports failed to meet their revenue targets because of a slowdown in imports, adding that some targets have been set too high and do not account for delays in the fuel marking program.

Customs officials were appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee Wednesday.

The committee heard from district collectors that almost all ports posted a “negative deviation from the target” in each month of 2019 up to October.

The BoC added that fuel marking, an anti-smuggling measure, was supposed to result in P10 billion more collections this year, though the program’s full implementation has been moved back to March.

The BoC also noted weaker imports of oil, sugar, and automobiles.

ACT-CIS Party list Representative, Eric Go Yap also queried the BIR about cash being brought in through airports.

Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero said the largest single instance of cash being brought in through the airports involved up to $2 million.

“Based on records… (there were) a total of 20 persons who brought in almost P6 billion (in September and October).” Mr. Guerrero added.

Individuals bringing in large amounts of cash are only queried for the intended use of the funds, according to Mr. Guerrero.

Mr. Yap noted the possibility the funds could be used to finance terrorism, and drew a contrast to Overseas Filipino Workers who are taxed for bringing in appliances like televisions.

Pero yung P6 billion… for two months walang tax, walang investigation. (In those two months when the P6 billion was brought in, no one was taxed or investigated).” Mr. Yap said.

In the 10 months to October, the BoC had collected P528.036 billion against the target for the period of P544.540 billion.

Asked if the bureau will hit its target this year, Assistant Commissioner in charge of Post Clearance Audit Vincent Philip C. Maronilla told reporters in a chance interview, “No choice but to be optimistic.” — Genshen L. Espedido