By Benjamin Lim Vergara
THE Bureau of Customs at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Friday has intercepted a huge amount of undeclared foreign currency brought into the country by a Korean tourist, the bureau said yesterday.
Kim Junheon arrived in the Philippines late Friday night on board a Philippine Airlines flight from Hong Kong with an undeclared cash amounting to HK$3.828 million (about PhP255 million) in his possession. He was about to exit the arrival Customs area with his silver carry-on bag when Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) agent Tomas Maranan stopped him.
The surprised tourist was then directed by the intelligence agent to place his luggage to the portable x-ray machine for scanning. It was then that bundles of Hong Kong dollars were found.
The BoC, in a statement, said bringing in or out of foreign currencies in the Philippines is allowed but must be declared when it exceed US$10,000 using the foreign currency declaration form upon arrival or prior to departure from the country’s airports.
Port of NAIA District Collector Carmelita Talusan said Kim’s failure to declare the foreign currency is in violation of provisions of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (RA 10863) in relation to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Manual of Regulations on Foreign Exchange.
The Korean national could only get what is authorized by law which is US$10,000 or its equivalent in local currency while the rest of his money will be seized in favor of the government.
Kim, through his lawyer, said he will appeal the BoC’s decision to the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas with his lawyer. Moreover, Kim’s lawyer told Customs officials that his client has declared his money.
However, customs authorities said Kim declared his cash only after he was caught.
BoC-NAIA has been consistent in its vigilance in protecting the borders. It has a record-breaking 27 drug bust in a span of six months and have stopped several attempts of illegal wildlife trade, concealed and mis-declared goods.