The Bureau of Customs–Port of Manila has forfeited P39.37 million worth of misdeclared sugar in 45 twenty-footer containers that were abandoned at the Port of Manila (POM).

District Collector Erastus Sandino Austria has issued a Decree of Abandonment against the shipment after the consignee failed to file the entry within the prescribed period. The sugar is forfeited in favor of the government by the Bureau of Customs.

The containers, which arrived on separate dates in June and July, were declared to contain packaging materials, kitchen utensils, and kraft paper. It was shipped from Thailand by Hup Lee Trading.

The 45 containers are consigned to Red Star Rising Corporation of Unit A, GF Binondo Warehouse Depot 3, 99 Barraca Cor. Muelle de Binondo, Manila. Records from the Account Management Office show that the company is owned by a certain Dante Lunar.

During inspection of the containers, as part of the standard operating procedure, the customs examiners found 22,500 sacks of sugar in the 45 containers instead of the declared items, packaging materials, kitchen utensils, and kraft paper.

The shipment has violated Section 117 (Regulated Importation and Exportation), Section 1400 (Misdeclaration, Misclassification, Undervaluation in Goods Declaration) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act in relation to SRA-BOC Joint Memorandum Circular No. 4-2002.

SRA-BOC Joint Memorandum Circular No. 4-2002 provides that no imported sugar shall be released to the importer/ consignee without a Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) clearance.

The consignee, Red Star, also violated Republic Act 10845 or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.

Section 3 of Republic Act No. 10845 considers the smuggling of sugar in excess of 1 million pesos as economic sabotage.

The importer whose accreditation was approved on September 17 last year has been revoked immediately by the Customs chief.

“Our intensified border protection, timely issuance of alert orders on shipments with derogatory information, regular spot inspection, and the strict measures in customs clearance may have caused the abandonment of this misdeclared sugar in fear of being caught,” Commissioner Isidro Lapena said.

Lapena has ordered all ports to heighten the border protection against all forms of smuggling as unscrupulous individuals getting bolder in importing smuggled and contraband goods.

**Updates on the shabu shipment seized in Manila International Container Port

The Bureau of Customs chief clarified on Thursday that per records, Vecaba Trading has no other prior transactions with the BOC other than the foiled drug smuggling attempt on August 7.

“Again, Vecaba Trading has no other transactions with the Bureau of Customs and this intercepted shipment is the only shipment they have imported. Our data nationwide, from all ports, yielded negative record of any other transactions from Vecaba Trading,” Commissioner Isidro Lapena said.

Our Management Information and System Technology Group had also conducted verification on all the ports and no other shipments under Vecaba Trading was found.

“I would like to inform the public that the intercepted shipment was abandoned by the consignee, which means that the consignee or importer did not file the entry for fear of discovery. The filing of an entry is a pre-condition for the issuance of an alert order but pursuant to the powers granted to my office by law, I have immediately instructed that the container be put on hold” the Bureau chief said.

He further emphasized that all mechanisms to safeguard the release of any contraband that may have reached the ports are ready and in place.

“I can issue the necessary alert order at any time or put any container on hold in similar situations upon the request of any government agency,” the Commissioner said.

On the drugs apprehended at the MICP, official report from Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency showed that 391 kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu had been accounted for with a corresponding standard price of P2.7 billion.

Inside the first magnetic lifter cylinder were 23 pieces of 2-pack bundles wrapped in aluminium foil and 43 pieces of 3-pack bundles wrapped also in aluminium foil, all containing shabu.

Found in the second magnetic lifter cylinder, contained 87 pieces of 2-pack bundles and 1-pack wrapped in aluminium foil, all containing shabu.

The Bureau chief also pointed out the importance of information and intelligence sharing between agencies to foil any attempt of smuggling of any commodity.

“Proper coordination and intelligence sharing is crucial. In fact, the Bureau of Customs has immediately acted on the request of the Department of Agriculture to closely monitor attempts of smuggling of agricultural products. In this regard, we are working closely with the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. This close coordination has yielded very positive results in the suppression and eventual elimination of smuggling of agricultural products. This is our way of helping our farmers,” Commissioner Lapena said.

The strict anti-smuggling efforts of the BOC and its close coordination with the DA has led to the seizure of P227.6 million smuggled agricultural products in 2018.

“We are in the middle of our reform agenda and this has yielded positive results, more and more of our employees and stakeholders are joining the fold. Our performance is at an all-time high as indicated by the increased revenue generation capabilities of the Bureau and increased apprehensions as well as prosecution of violators.” Commissioner Lapeña said. ####


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