BOC intercepts P23.8M worth of smuggled sugar at Manila port

More than P23.8 million worth of refined sugar were seized at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) as the Bureau of the Customs (BOC) continues its aggressive operation against smuggling of agricultural products into the country.

BOC Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz said the sacks of refined sugar came from Hong Kong and were consigned to Burias Jang Consumer Goods Trading.

An agent of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) inspects sacks of refined sugar at the Manila International Container Port (MICP). The sacks of sugar, worth P23.8 million, came from Hong Kong. (photo: CIIS-MICP)

He said the shipment was originally declared to contain insulators, surge arrester, slipper outsoles and Styrene Butadiene rubber.

“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,” Ruiz said.

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

The operation began on Dec. 2 last year after the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service-MICP (CIIS-MICP) under Intelligence Officer 3 Alvin Enciso requested for the issuance of an Alert Order (AO) on a shipment consigned to Burias Jang Consumer Goods Trading.

Enciso said the information they received was that the shipment was suspected to contain agricultural products, misdeclared and undeclared items.

The Office of District Collector - MICP issued the AO on Dec. 6.

During the inspection on Jan. 11, Enciso said the shipment was found to contain refined sugar (MTRL PHOL - Thailand and GULA EPX PRAI BRAND - Malaysia) worth P23,847,000.

Officials and agents of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service- Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP) discuss the information they obtained after the inspection of a shipment from Hong Kong which was declared to be containing rubbe, insulators, surge arrester, slipper outsoles but were found to be containing P23.8 million worth of refined sugar. (photo: CIIS-MICP)

CIIS Director Jeoffrey Tacio said the use of multiple law enforcement tools enabled Custom officers to what he described as a horrible act of smuggling.

“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,” said Tacio.

Officials from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), led by Director General Moro Virgilio Lazo, are also at the site of the inspection after derogatory information reached both agencies that there are possible illegal drugs in the shipment consigned to Burias Jang Consumer Goods Trading.

The shipment is currently undergoing PDEA K9 paneling and small baggage X-ray, according to Tacio.

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

BOC Deputy Commissioner Juvymax Uy stressed the need for them to be vigilant, explaining that smugglers will always find ways to sustain their operations.

“These past months, the agency has faced a significant number of attempts to traffic prohibited items, including agricultural products, into the country despite the work being done by our dedicated team," said Uy.

"Smuggling these items is a serious offense but these recent operations by the bureau demonstrate the lengths smugglers will go for their own financial gain,” he added.

The BOC 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.