Smuggled Peking ducks worth P40 M held at CustomsBy Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Customs has confiscated P40 million worth of smuggled Peking ducks and pigeons, noting that the illegal importation of food and agricultural products, especially from China, is peaking with the approach of the Christmas season.
Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon presented to the media on Thursday two 40-foot reefer vans containing the smuggled items, misdeclared as frozen mackerel by Zexa Trading, its importer.
In a statement, Biazon said “the importer of these Peking ducks and pigeons may have underestimated the capabilities of our x-ray machines and thought they would be able to do away with their illegal trade by concealing their hot shipment behind the pile of boxes of frozen mackerel inside the reefer vans.”
“This will definitely be a costly lesson for Xexa Trading as not only will the BOC confiscate their container vans of Peking ducks and pigeons, but we will also sue the officials of this company for violations of the Tariffs and Customs Code of the Philippines,” he added.
The shipment arrived at the Port of Manila on Oct. 15, according to lawyer Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang, head of the bureau’s X-Ray Inspection Project.
She pointed out that noted by the way the Peking ducks and pigeons were stuffed, “the intention to illegally sneak these frozen products into the country was obvious.”
“Had it not been for our high-tech x-ray machines, Hexa Trading may have succeeded in its smuggling attempt,” Mangaoang added.
Last week, the BOC uncovered two smuggling attampts involving P14 million worth of onions from China. The smuggled items were discovered at the Manila International Container Port.
Meanwhile, Biazon vowed to intensify his bureau’s “Run after the Smugglers,” or RATS, campaign.
“Our RATS program has been consistently filing smuggling cases every other week. So far, we haven’t run out of cases to file with the courts,” he told the Inquirer.
However, “the big number of cases pending in the judicial system has affected the credibility of the program with regards to the RATS’ success rate,” he said, adding, “For this program, I’d like to see more convictions.”
Of the more than 100 smuggling cases filed by the bureau during the past two years against erring importers and customs brokers, only one has resulted in a conviction.