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BoC tracing owner of seized diamonds

The Bureau of Customs (BoC) is seeking help from its foreign counterparts in Malaysia to trace the real owner of the 22 pieces of diamonds and how these were stolen and sent in a balikbayan box to the Philippines last Dec. 5.

“One of the aspect we are doing as a matter of procedure even in counter drug operation, we are pursuing collaborative efforts with our international, foreign counterparts,” BoC spokesman Neil Estrella said.

The BoC found 22 pieces of stolen diamonds inside a balikbayan box when it was inspected last week at the Manila International Container Port (MICP)

A certain Arturo Rivera from Kuala Lumpur sent the balikbayan box containing the plastic re-sealable pouch filled with the diamonds that was neatly hidden in a wallet.

The package was consigned to Lajane Basilio of Purok 1, Luakan, Bataan.

Estrella said the personalities involved were alleged persons of interest.

“It appears sender is Filipino, but this is subject to validation,” he said.

The BoC spokesman said Rivera and Basilio would be criminally charged if they were proven guilty after the conduct of an investigation.

“Initially, they have denied it,” he said.

The information relayed by National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran led to BoC’s discovery of the stolen diamonds inside the balikbayan box.

Based on the information from Gierran, the box was shipped in a container van loaded with 245 other packages onboard Sima Genesis 0231 that arrived in the country last Dec. 5 from Port of Klang, West Port in Kuala Lumpur.

“The NBI has conducted a deeper investigation on the validity and authenticity of this box,” Estrella said.

He placed the estimated value of the 22 diamonds at over a million pesos.

“The whole box is under a warrant of seizure and detention,” he said.

The confiscated diamonds are now in the custody of the Manila International Container Port.