Intelligence agents of the Bureau of Customs confiscated 80,000 bags of refined sugar, which are believed to be smuggled from Thailand, during an anti-smuggling operation in Batangas.
BOC Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz said each of the bags contains 50 kilograms of sugar for a total of 4,000 metric tons.
He said the seized bags of refined white sugar, worth around P240 million, arrived in the country through a vessel named VOI MV SUNWARD, adding that imported bags of sugar were consigned to Stone Int'l. Co. Ltd. by The Thai Sugar Trading Corp.
Ruiz said the operation was based on the confirmed intelligence report obtained by the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) about the arrival of imported sugar with no Notice of Arrival filed with the Customs bureau.
The CIIS, along with the Customs Police Division-Enforcement and Security Service (CPD-ESS) and backed by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessel DF-308 chanced upon the vessel in the vicinity of Bauan and Mabini breakwater on Friday, Jan. 13.
Upon arrival at the site, the composite team boarded the vessel and talked with its skipper, Capt. Rosalito O. Lamoste.
He narrated that the vessel arrived at around 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 12.
Batangas Port District Collector Rhea Gregorio has issued the corresponding Warrant of Seizure and Detention (WSD) against the vessel and sugar shipment.
“We are appalled at the audacity of these groups to continue with their activities despite the BOC’s intensified efforts lately to apprehend them. But thankfully, our team is just as relentless and tenacious to, once and for all, end such reprehensible acts,” Ruiz said.
BOC Deputy Commissioner Juvymax Uy shared they immediately processed the information as part of the bureau's commitment to further intensify operations against smuggling, particularly agricultural products.
"We process information about alleged smuggling attempts as quickly as possible because we know this is critical to Filipinos," said Uy.
“We are well-aware that there is a buzz surrounding our operations lately because of the high prices of sugar, onions, and many others in the market. The initiatives of our field agents enable us to work together, yes; but more importantly, it also shows our desire to not only follow the directive of our President, but to work for the good of our people and protect them from this economic sabotage,” he added.