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P39.37-M smuggled sugar found in Manila port

 

By BETHEENA KAE UNITE

 

Customs authorities discovered Thursday a total of 22,500 sacks of sugar from Thailand worth P39.37 million inside 45 abandoned containers at the Port of Manila.

The abandoned sacks of sugar have already been forfeited in favor of the government.

According to Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena, the shipments arrived in the country on separate dates — June 30, July 5, 8, 19, 20, and 21.

While the shipments are in transit, the commissioner already instructed the district collector to put the containers on hold and issue the necessary alert order since the information received showed that the shipments were misdeclared.

The containers were only declared as packaging materials, kitchen utensils, and kraft paper. However, during inspection, the containers were found to contain sacks of sugar.

It was shipped from Thailand by Hup Lee Trading and is 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, Lapena said..

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 shipment was later found to have no permit from the Sugar Regulatory Administration.

“The reason for misdeclaration is to mislead the BoC because if they declared it right, they will be automatically inspected or alerted because there is a request that all agricultural products will be alerted to be examined properly. Noong nalaman niya na ma-alert sila, they decided to abandon it,” Lapena said.

The commissioner also believed that this is a work done by a sugar cartel.

“It is about the profit. Kung nakalusot ito, i-stored sa warehouse, kapag mataas ang presyo saka nila illabas. It is also a way of hoarding and price controlling,” Lapena said.

“This is a sugar cartel. Ito na ‘yan sila. They manipulate the prices just like what is done with rice,” Lapena added.

The Customs chief also suspects that some people inside the bureau are involved, or might have helped the smugglers to pass through the bureau.

“Ito, kung magshi-ship ka na ganito kalaki, then you would first arrange your connections for you to have a better chance of getting through the customs processes,” Lapena said.

“Pagka ganitong operation at ang scheme nila ay palusutin ito, then meron silang kausap, probably from the inside,” he added.

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.

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 P1 million as economic sabotage.

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

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