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The Philippines joins the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme



Bangkok (Thailand), 26 January 2016
- On 19th January the Philippines became the next country in ASEAN to formally join the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) - World Customs Organisation (WCO) Container Control Programme through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Bureau of Customs Commissioner, Alberto Lina and UNODC Regional Representative, Jeremy Douglas.

"The signing of this MoU comes at an important time for the Philippines at the dawn of the ASEAN Economic Community when higher priority must be given to maritime security, connectivity and trade facilitation. The Programme is already starting to achieve significant results in other countries of SE Asia and we hope the Philippines can soon join by making seizures and assisting to disrupt the transnational criminal groups and terrorist organisations that seek to utilise the containerised supply chain to transport their illicit consignments", said Mr. Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative.

Over 500 million sea containers transfer 90% of world cargo across the globe every year with over half of these containers originating from, in transit through or destined for the countries of SE Asia. Traffickers exploit the sheer volume of this trade to conceal and transport illicit goods in the hope they will evade detection.

The Global Container Control Programme is a joint initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Customs Organisation. Launched in 2004 in response to the organised crime and human security threats posed by the maritime movement of illicit goods in sea containers, the Programme operates through the establishment of specialised Port Control Units (PCUs) securing the global supply chain.

In the first 10 years of operation PCUs established by the Programme have seized over 100 metric tonnes of cocaine, 2.9 metric tonnes of heroin, 60 metric tonnes of cannabis and 1,200 metric tonnes of precursor chemicals used to manufacture both illicit drugs and explosives.

The Philippines, comprising 7,107 islands and a coastline of over 36,000 kms, handles approximately 5.5 million TEU containers per year with over 3.5 million of those passing through the Port of Manila and the Manila International Container Terminal. A Joint Port Control Unit will be established in the Philippines falling under the umbrella of the newly created National Coast Watch Centre. The Unit will comprise officers from the Bureau of Customs, Coastguard and Philippines National Police. The Philippines will also become the first country in SE Asia to benefit from use of the WCO Cargo Targeting System which allows detailed analysis of pre-arrival information to target consignments likely to contain illicit goods as well as assist to speed clearance and facilitate licit trade.

Within 2015 the Global Container Control Programme expanded operations to 52 countries of the world. The ASEAN countries of Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia and now the Philippines have signed MoUs and benefit through the financial contribution of the Government of Canada (Global Partnership Program), the United States of America (Export Control and Related Border Security Programme) and Australia (Department of Immigration and Border Protection). Malaysia will sign a MoU in the coming months and the Programme has recently been extended to cover Cambodia, Myanmar and Lao PDR.