THE BUREAU of Customs (BoC) on Monday said it surpassed its 10-month collection target by 2.4%, putting the agency on track to meet its full-year goal.

In a House Public Accounts Committee hearing, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero said the BoC collections reached P525.37 billion as of end-October, exceeding the P513.19-billion target. He said the figure is also 17.1% higher than the P448.95-billion collection during the same period in 2020.

The BoC has consistently beat its monthly collection targets since January.

Mr. Guerrero said the latest tally gives him confidence the agency will hit the P616.7-billion full-year collection goal set by the Development Budget Coordination Committee. In 2020, the BoC collections fell by 14% to P537 billion due to the slowdown in international trade.

“To address smuggling… we have established our Customs Operations Center to profile shipments and take out high-risk shipments and possibly (those) containing contraband. We also intensified our scanning capabilities… (by) acquiring additional X-ray (machines),” Mr. Guerrero said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The BoC has confiscated P23-billion worth of smuggled items during the period ending October, more than double the P10.6-billion worth of smuggled items seized in 2020. Customs confiscated P20.6-billion worth of smuggled items in 2019.

The agency collected P133.58 billion in excise taxes on imported oil products so far this year.

Mr. Guerrero also said that the BoC intensified its post-clearance audit of importers which generated P1.41-billion worth of revenues this year.

Meanwhile, the BoC collected P3 billion from swine meat imports as of mid-November, and estimated P3.4 billion in foregone revenue after the government cut tariffs to stabilize pork prices.

A total of 197 million kilograms (kgs) of pork have entered the country from April 7 to Nov. 12 this year, or since President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s orders to lower pork import tariffs took effect, the Department of Finance said on Monday.

The government cut pork tariffs to improve inventory and ease prices amid an African Swine Fever outbreak that depleted pork supply.

Mr. Guerrero said pork imports started going up in March and steadily grew until May.

The volume of pork imports went up by more than six times to 24.45 million kgs in April compared with the same month a year earlier.

“This dramatic increase in pork import volumes continued in May, when a total of 36.5 million kgs entered the country, representing a 506% hike from the 6.02 million kgs imported during the same period in 2020,” DoF said.

Pork imports of 33.62 million kgs in June was more than six times than a year earlier, then dropped to 31.18 million kgs in July, which was still more than four times than the year before.

In August, pork imports reached 23.82 million kgs, or less than four times the previous year. Pork imports reached 25.73 million kgs in September and 19.36 million kgs in October. — Jenina P. Ibañez and Russell Louis C. Ku