Intelligence and investigation agents of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have intercepted more than P63 million worth of frozen foods from Hong Kong and China during an operation at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).
BOC Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz said the operation stemmed from confirmed intelligence reports of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service-MICP about the arrival of two container vans from Hong Kong and two more from China that all contain frozen foods.
Ruiz said the CIIS-MICP intelligence reports indicated that the four container vans contain frozen meat products but would be declared as thousands of kilograms of frozen prawn balls.
“These four containers contained other frozen foods that the consignees did not declare in their manifest. I have personally expressed my confidence to the team, and thanked them for their relentless pursuit of these smugglers,” said Ruiz.
“We are simply complying with the directive of our President to continue our drive against the smuggling of agricultural products and protecting our markets and the prices of our products,” he added.
Ruiz said each of the four containers has an estimated P15,750,000 worth of suspected misdeclared goods.
The container vans from Hong Kong arrived on Nov. 17 while those from China arrived on Nov. 18.
As soon as the reports were received, BOC Deputy Commissioner Juvymax Uy said they issued two Alert Orders (AOs) on Nov. 17 against Victory JM Enterprise OPC, the imported/exporter of two containers from Hong Kong-- each container has declared 25,000 kilograms of frozen prawn balls.
Two other AOs against two containers from China, he said, were issued on Nov. 18.
Uy said that during the inspection of the container vans from Hong Kong, his team discovered frozen tofu, chicken paws, and boneless beef, while the second container also had frozen tofu, Vietnamese suckling pig, and beancurd skin.
The other container vans from China, on the other hand, were declared to be containing frozen prawn balls but had actually frozen fish tofu and frozen beef cheek meat.
“These operations ensure that we are sending the right message to these smugglers—we are not going to back down. I encourage our team members to remain committed to this goal and use their experiences to be one step ahead of these people we want to put behind bars,” Uy said.
CIIS Director Jeoffrey Tacio said they are now preparing charges in violation of Sec. 1400 (misdeclaration in goods declaration) in relation to Sec. 1113 (property subject to seizure and forfeiture) of the CMTA against those involved.
He said they also recommended the issuance of a warrant of seizure and detention (WSD).
Tacio gave credit to the team that inspected the containers and lauded their commitment to stop such activities.
“We have been working double time since receiving the information about these containers. With prices of our goods going up, it is all the more important that we do our best to protect the borders and make sure that none of these smuggled products enter our markets,” said Tacio.
President Marcos has ordered the BOC and other government agencies to step up the campaign against smuggling, saying the smuggling activities of agriculture products has been affecting the local farmers.