Philippines - Abandoned Cargo Advice

What are the main reasons for abandonments in the Philippines? Do the reasons differ for certain ports?

In the Philippines, the following reasons generally apply to all ports; Lack of import permit, seized cargoes, huge demurrage/storage charges and prohibited import cargoes.

Do the local authorities interfere? If so, why and after how many days?

The local authorities will interfere once the cargo is deemed abandoned (considered as property of the government) under any of the following circumstances:

  1. When the owner, importer, consignee of the imported article expressly signifies in writing to the Collector of Customs his intention to abandon;
  2. When the owner, importer, consignee or interested party after due notice, fails to file an entry within thirty (30) days, which shall not be extendible, from the date of discharge of the last package from the vessel or aircraft, or having filed such entry, fails to claim his importation within fifteen (15) days, which shall not likewise be extendible, from the date of posting of the notice to claim such importation.

Any person who abandons an article or who fails to claim his importation as provided for in the preceding paragraph shall be deemed to have renounced all his interests and property rights therein (R.A. 7651, June 04, 1993).

How can the issue be resolved?

The Port of Loading (POL) should check first with POD if they have an import permit; Description on the BL should be true & correct and avoid misdeclaration of cargoes.

What are the options to get the cargo released once it is seized by the local authorities?

Based on the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP), the following are applicable:

PART 2. - ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS
 
SEC. 2301. Warrant for Detention of Property -Cash Bond. - Upon making any, seizure, the Collector shall issue a warrant for the detention of the property; and if the owner or importer desires to secure the release of the property for legitimate use, the Collector shall, with the approval of the Commissioner of Customs, surrender it upon the filing of a cash bond, in an amount to be fixed by him, conditioned upon the payment of the appraised value of the article and/or any fine, expenses and costs which may be adjudged in the case: Provided, That such importation shall not be released under any bond when there is prima facie evidence of fraud in the importation of the article: Provided, further, That articles the importation of which is prohibited by law shall not be released under any circumstance whomsoever, Provided, finally, That nothing in this section shall be construed as relieving the owner or importer from any criminal liability which may arise from any violation of law committed in connection with the importation of the article (R.A. 7651, June 04, 1993).
 
SEC. 2303. Notification to Owner or Importer. - The Collector shall give the owner or importer of the property or his agent a written notice of the seizure and shall give him an opportunity to be heard in reference to the delinquency which was the occasion of such seizure. For the purpose of giving such notice and of all other proceedings in the matter of such seizure, the importer, consignee or person holding the bill of lading shall be deemed to be the "owner" of the article included in the bill. For the same purpose, "agent" shall be deemed to include not only any agent in fact of the owner of the seized property but also any person having responsible possession of the property at the time of the seizure, if the owner or his agent in fact is unknown or cannot be reached.
 
SEC. 2305. Description, Appraisal and Classification of Seized Property. - The Collector shall also cause a list and particular description and/or classification of the property seized to be prepared and an appraisement of the same, like, or similar article at its wholesale value in the local market in the usual wholesale quantities in the ordinary course of trade to be made by at least two appraising officials, if there are such officials at or near the place of seizure. In the absence of - those officials, then by two competent and disinterested citizens of the Philippines, to be selected by him for that purpose, residing at or near the place of 46 seizure, which list and appraisement shall be properly attested to by the Collector and the persons making the appraisal.
 
SEC. 2306. Proceedings in Case of Property Belonging to Unknown Parties. - If, within fifteen days after the notification prescribed in section twenty -three hundred and four of this Code, no owner or agent can be found or appears before the Collector, the latter shall declare the property forfeited to the government to be sold at auction in accordance with law.
 
SEC. 2307. Settlement of Case by Payment of Fine or Redemption of Forfeited Property. - Subject to approval of the Commissioner, the district collector may, while the case is still pending, except when there is fraud, accept the settlement of any seizure case provided that the owner, importer, exporter, or consignee or his agent shall offer to pay to the collector a fine imposed by him upon the property, or in case of forfeiture, the owner, exporter, importer or consignee or his agent shall offer to pay for the domestic market value of the seized article. The Commissioner may accept the settlement of any seizure case on appeal in the same manner. Upon payment of the fine as determined by the district collector which shall be in amount not less than twenty percentum (20%) nor more than eighty percentum (80%) of the landed cost of the seized imported article or the F.O.B. value of the seized article for export, or payment of the domestic market value, the property shall be forthwith released and all liabilities which may or might attach to the property by virtue of the offence which was the occasion of the seizure and all liability which might have been incurred under any cash deposit or bond given by the owner or agent in respect to such property shall thereupon be deemed to be discharged. Settlement of any seizure case by payment of the fine or redemption of forfeited property shall not be allowed in any case where the importation is absolutely prohibited or where the release of the property would be contrary to law.

Can the cargo be auctioned and/or disposed?

Likewise based on TCCP;
PART 5. - DISPOSITION OF PROPERTY IN CUSTOMS CUSTODY
 
SEC. 2601. Property Subject to Sale. - Property iii customs custody shall be subject to sale under the conditions hereinafter provided:

  1. Abandoned articles;
  2. Articles entered under warehousing entry not withdrawn nor the duties and taxes paid thereon within the period described under Section 1908 of this Code;
  3. Seized property, other than contraband, after liability to sale shall have been established by proper administrative or judicial proceedings in conformity with the provisions of this code; and
  4. Any article subject to a valid lien for customs duties, taxes or other charges collectible by the Bureau of Customs, after the expiration of the period allowed for the satisfaction of the same (R.A. 7651, June 04,1993).

SEC. 2603. Mode of Sale. - In the absence of any special provision, subject to the provisions of on 2601 above provided, property subject to sale by the customs authorities shall be sold at public on within thirty (30) days after ten (10) days notice of such sale shall have been conspicuously posted at port and such other advertisement as may appear to the Collector to be advisable in the particular case.
 
SEC. 2605. Disposition of Proceeds. - The following charges shall be paid from the proceeds in the order named:

  1. Expenses of appraisal, advertisement of sale.
  2. Duties except in the case of abandoned and forfeited articles.
  3. Taxes and other charges due the Government.
  4. Government storage charges.
  5. Arrastre and private storage charges.
  6. Freight, lighterage or general average, on the voyage of importation, of which due notice shall have been given to the Collector.

Source of Information

Pandiman Philippines, Inc.

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