By Betheena Kae Unite
All 105 container vans that were illegally released at the Asian Terminal Inc. (ATI) container yard have been accounted for, Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña confirmed Wednesday.
The remaining 20 container vans, which have been the subject of further tracking, were also found in a warehouse inside the Sterling Industrial Park in Meycauayan, Bulacan.
“All container vans have been accounted for. The remaining 20 container vans were discovered in another warehouse owned by Homms Trading Corporation,” Lapeña said during a press briefing Wednesday afternoon in Tondo, Manila.
The commissioner said that customs agents found the remaining container vans to be containing the same tiles discovered on the previous shipments that arrived in Bulacan on March 20.
This, according to Lapeña, dismissed the initial reports that the illegally-released shipments also contained diapers and canned goods.
“No, there was no diapers or canned goods in the shipments,” Lapeña said.
He further said that the estimated value of the shipments still stand at P69 million based on its declaration but Lapeña said “the value can still go up because the shipments were alerted for undervaluation in the first place.”
Inventory is underway, he added.
On Monday, all 85 containers were tracked through cross-checking of logbooks in the warehouses.
Some of the contents of the shipments were also intercepted by a raiding team upon unloading of the commodities.
The shipments, which all came from China were about to undergo 100-percent physical inspection but the shipments had already been released.
According to Customs processes, a shipment that have been alerted should be subjected to 100-percent physical examination and only the commissioner is allowed to authorize release of the alerted shipments, however the shipments were released without the lifting order issued by Lapeña.
“Unfortunately, the ATI has allowed the release of the containers without proper clearance from my office,” he added.
It appears, Lapeña explained, that the shipments were released because a certain Darwin Dalmacio, ship manager of ATI, allegedly untagged the shipments from the system so it can be released upon the receipt of the alleged forged transmittal released order.
Since then five Customs officials have been placed under preventive suspension pending investigation.
The accreditation of 10 importers and three customs brokers were also revoked by the Account Management Office on March 22.