Jessie brought into the Philippines a foreign-made luxury car, and paid less than the actual taxes and duties due. Due to the discrepancy, the Bureau of Customs instituted seizure proceedings and issued a warrant of seizure and detention. The car, then parked inside a pay parking garage, was seized and brought by government agents to a government impounding facility. The Collector of Customs denied Jessie’s request for the withdrawal of the warrant.
Aggrieved, Jessie filed against the Collector a criminal complaint for usurpation of judicial functions on the ground that only a judge may issue a warrant of search and seizure.
- Resolve with reasons Jessie’s criminal complaint. (4%)
The criminal complaint is bereft of merit. The issuance of a warrant of seizure and detention by the Collector of Customs for goods released contrary to law, as when there is underpayment of taxes and duties, is his primary and exclusive jurisdiction and precludes the judge of regular courts form taking cognizance of the subject matter. Accordingly, what was done by the Collector could not be a basis of a prosecution for the usurpation of judicial functions (Commissioner v. Navarro, 77 SCRA 264 (1977)).
2. Would your answer be the same if the luxury car was seized while parked inside the garage of Jessie’s residence? Why or why not? (4%)
No. The luxury car being in a dwelling house, cannot be seized by officers of the Bureau of Customs exercising police authority without a search warrant issued by a judge of a competent court (Sec 2209, TCC).
Source: (Answer to Bar Exam Questions by UP Law Complex)