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Jun 20, 2008

117 SCRA 780 (1982)

  • Articles subject to seizure do not have to be goods imported from a foreign country.
  • Manner of appeal from decision of customs officials


Collector Sabino Rigor issued a Warrant of Seizure and Detention against the vessel LCT-759 and its cargo, consisting of 103 pieces of logs for failure to present a manifest for the said logs within the period prescribed. The parties who were duly notified and represented, voluntarily submitted to the jurisdiction of the respondent Collector. After hearing, the Collector rendered a decision ordering the seized logs forfeited in favor of the government to be disposed of according to law.

Instead of appealing the Collector’s decision to the Commissioner of Customs, the private respondents filed an original petition for certiorari with the Davao CFI. Respondent alleged lack of jurisdiction of the CFI.


  • W/N the lower court has jurisdiction to review a decision of the Collector of Customs


The Supreme Court held in the negative.

Articles subject to seizure do not have to be goods imported from a foreign country. The provisions of the Code refer to unmanifested articles found on vessels or aircraft engaged in the coastwise trade. The customs authorities do not have to prove to the satisfaction of a court of first instance that the articles on board a vessel were imported from abroad or are intended to be shipped abroad before they may exercise the power to effect customs’ searches, seizure, or arrests provided by law and to continue with the administrative hearings on whether or not the law may have been violated.

Regarding the nature of the port of origin and the port of destination, it is enough if one of the ports is a port of entry. The respondent court’s finding that “port of entry” must be limited to the wharves of Sta. Ana and Sasa where the customs house is located and not extended to “every inch of the City of Davao” would unduly hamper if not cripple the effective enforcement of customs and tariff laws. Customs officials cannot stand by helplessly for want of jurisdiction simply because a restrictive interpretation of “port of entry” would enable coastwise vessels to load or unload unmanifested goods with impunity outside of the specific area where the wharves and the customs house are located.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court ruled that the customs’ officials have authority under the law to make the initial determination on the limits of their administrative jurisdiction, to act speedily and to make decisions on the basis of that determination, and to have such act or decision reviewable only in the manner provided by the Customs and Tariff Code. The Collector’s decisions are appealable to the Commissioner of Customs, whose decisions, in cases involving seizure, detention or release of property, may in turn be reviewed only by the CTA.


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