By Ferdinand Patinio

(Photo courtesy of BOC-MICP)

MANILA – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) discovered close to PHP24 million worth of smuggled imported refined sugar from Hong Kong at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).

In a statement Friday, the bureau said the shipment was declared to contain insulators, surge arrester, slipper outsoles and Styrene Butadiene rubber from Hong Kong consigned to Burias Jang Consumer Goods Trading.

However, a 100 percent physical examination on Wednesday yielded refined sugar (MTRL PHOL – Thailand and GULA EPX PRAI BRAND – Malaysia) worth PHP23.85 million.

The operation started on Dec. 2, 2022 after the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service-MICP (CIIS-MICP) requested the issuance of an Alert Order (AO) on a shipment consigned to Burias Jang Consumer Goods Trading.

The Office of District Collector – MICP issued the AO on Dec. 6, 2022 based on the information that the shipment is “suspected to contain agricultural products, misdeclared and undeclared items.”

CIIS director Jeoffrey Tacio said the use of multiple law enforcement tools enabled Customs officers “to stop these horrible acts.”

“Their vigilance and attention to detail led to this significant seizure. We will definitely look at working with agencies more to bring these perpetrators to justice,” he said.

The consignee will face charges for the possible violation of Sec. 1400 (misdeclaration in goods declaration) in relation to Sec. 1113 (property subject to seizure and forfeiture) of the CMTA.

The examination was also witnessed by officials from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) led by Director General Moro Virgilio Lazo, after derogatory information of a possible illegal drugs shipment reached them.

The shipment is currently undergoing PDEA K9 paneling and small baggage X-ray.

Aside from PDEA officials, BOC-CIIS officials, Customs examiner, Enforcement Security Service (ESS), DA – Task Force BBM, and Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. (CCBI) representative were also witnesses.

Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz lamented the continuous attempts from smugglers to bring undeclared agricultural products into the country but lauded the teamwork with other government agencies.

“Our targeted examinations and close work with the DA (Department of Agriculture) and their attached agencies yielded significant quantities of smuggled agricultural products these recent months and helped protect Philippines agriculture from the economic impact that smuggling carries,” he said. (PNA)