Papa vs. Mago, 22 SCRA 857 (1968)
- Martin Alagao, the petitioner herein and the head of the counter-intelligence unit of the Manila Police Department, acting upon a reliable information regarding a certain shipment of personal effects, allegedly misdeclared and undervalued, would be released the following day from the customs zone of the port of Manila and loaded on two trucks.
- Accordingly, he conducted surveillance at gate no. 1 of the customs zone upon orders of the petitioner Ricardo Papa, Chief of Police of Manila and a duly deputized agent of the Bureau of Customs. When the trucks left gate No. 1 at about 4:30 in the afternoon of November 4, 1966, elements of the counter-intelligence unit went after the trucks and intercepted them at the Agrifina Circle, Ermita, Manila.
- The load of the two trucks consisting of nine bales of goods, and the two trucks, were seized on instructions of the Chief of Police. Upon investigation, a person claimed ownership of the goods and showed to the policemen a "Statement and Receipts of Duties Collected in Informal Entry No. 147-5501", issued by the Bureau of Customs in the name of a certain Bienvenido Naguit.
- However, Remedios Mago, the herein respondent, filed with the CIF petition "for mandamus with restraining order or preliminary injunction claiming that she was the owner of the goods seized and hired the trucks owned by Valentin Lanopa.
- Particularly, she contended that
o she purchased them from the Sta. Monica Grocery in San Fernando, Pampanga;
o she hired the trucks owned by Valentin Lanopa to transport, the goods from said place to her residence at 1657 Laon Laan St., Sampaloc, Manila;
o the goods were seized by members of the Manila Police Department without search warrant issued by a competent court;
o Manila Chief of Police Ricardo Papa denied the request of counsel for Remedios Mago that the bales be not opened and the goods contained therein be not examined;
o then Customs Commissioner Jacinto Gavino had illegally assigned appraisers to examine goods because the goods were no longer under the control and supervision of the Commissioner of Customs;
o the goods, even assuming them to have been misdeclared and, undervalued, were not subject to seizure under Section 2531 of the Tariff and Customs Code because Remedios Mago had bought them from another person without knowledge that they were imported illegally.
- Respondent Judge Hilarion Jarencio issued an order ex parte restraining the petitioners from opening the nine bales in question, and at the same time set the hearing of the petition for preliminary injunction on November 16, 1966
- However, when the restraining order was received by herein petitioners, some bales had already been opened by the examiners of the Bureau of Customs in the presence of officials of the Manila Police Department, an assistant city fiscal and a representative of herein respondent Remedios Mago
Whether or not the Customs bureau has the jurisdiction to seize the goods and institute forfeiture proceedings against them
Yes. The Bureau of Customs has the duties, powers and jurisdiction, among others,
(1) to assess and collect all lawful revenues from imported articles, and all other dues, fees, charges, fines and penalties, accruing under the tariff and customs laws;
(2) to prevent and suppress smuggling and other frauds upon the customs; and
(3) to enforce tariff and customs laws. The goods in question were imported from Hongkong, as shown in the "Statement and Receipts of Duties Collected on Informal Entry". As long as the importation has not been terminated the imported goods remain under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of customs. Importation is deemed terminated only upon the payment of the duties, taxes and other charges upon the articles, or secured to be paid, at the port of entry and the legal permit for withdrawal shall have been granted. The payment of the duties, taxes, fees and other charges must be in full.
Even if it be granted, arguendo, that after the goods in question had been brought out of the customs area the Bureau of Customs had lost jurisdiction over the same, nevertheless, when said goods were intercepted at the Agrifina Circle on November 4, 1966 by members of the Manila Police Department, acting under directions and orders of their Chief, Ricardo C. Papa, who had been formally deputized by the Commissioner of Customs, 9 the Bureau of Customs had regained jurisdiction and custody of the goods. Section 1206 of the Tariff and Customs Code imposes upon the Collector of Customs the duty to hold possession of all imported articles upon which duties, taxes, and other charges have not been paid or secured to be paid, and to dispose of the same according to law. The goods in question, therefore, were under the custody and at the disposal of the Bureau of Customs at the time the petition for mandamus, docketed as Civil Case No. 67496, was filed in the Court of First Instance of Manila on November 9, 1966. The Court of First Instance of Manila, therefore, could not exercise jurisdiction over said goods even if the warrant of seizure and detention of the goods for the purposes of the seizure and forfeiture proceedings had not yet been issued by the Collector of Customs.
It is the settled rule, therefore, that the Bureau of Customs acquires exclusive jurisdiction over imported goods, for the purposes of enforcement of the customs laws, from the moment the goods are actually in its possession or control, even if no warrant of seizure or detention had previously been issued by the Collector of Customs in connection with seizure and forfeiture proceedings. In the present case, the Bureau of Customs actually seized the goods in question on November 4, 1966, and so from that date the Bureau of Customs acquired jurisdiction over the goods for the purposes of the enforcement of the tariff and customs laws, to the exclusion of the regular courts. Much less then would the Court of First Instance of Manila have jurisdiction over the goods in question after the Collector of Customs had issued the warrant of seizure and detention on January 12, 1967. 10 And so, it cannot be said, as respondents contend, that the issuance of said warrant was only an attempt to divest the respondent Judge of jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case.
The court presided by respondent Judge did not acquire jurisdiction over the goods in question when the petition for mandamus was filed before it, and so there was no need of divesting it of jurisdiction. Not having acquired jurisdiction over the goods, it follows that the Court of First Instance of Manila had no jurisdiction to issue the questioned order of March 7, 1967 releasing said goods