TWO Mactan export firms which were earlier identified as consignees of ten container vans of smuggled Thai sugar have disowned the cargo.
They said unscrupulous persons had “recycled” freight documents using the name of the companies .
“We specifically deny any knowledge, much less participation, in this illegal importation,” wrote Senecia A. Clarit, finance manager of Mobilia Products Inc., to Rico Rey Holganza of the Bureau of Customs in Cebu.
A similar letter dated Nov. 23 was sent by Muramoto Audiovisual Philippines Inc. (MAPLE).
Both firms which are locators in the Mactan Economic Zone 1 said they have always complied with requirements of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.
The ten container vans arrived on Nov. 2 in the Port of Cebu where they were seized by Customs agents.
Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon presented the confiscated shipment last Nov. 29 in a press conference where he ordered a thorough investigation.
He said contents of five of the vans were misdeclared as marble and granite products of one company, while contents of the other five were misdeclared as plastic parts for eyeglasses of the second export company.
“We will never allow the export and freeport zones to be used by smugglers as conduits for their illegal activities,” he said.
Cebu District Collector Ronnie Silvestre said he immediately issued a Warrant of Seizure and Detention (WSD) a day after the shipment arrived after receiving derogatory reports about the cargo.
X-ray scanning is done on all tax-free importations for export and freeport zones on orders of the Customs Commissioner, according to Lourdes Mangaoang, head of the X-ray Inspection Project (XIP).
Silvestre said that because Cebu has the most number of export and freeport zones in the country, Customs operatives stay alert for smuggling attempts.
He said a modus used by smugglers was to consign the shipment to an export zone or freeport locator to avoid paying duties.
However, once the goods are released by Customs, they are delivered to another address and are eventually sold locally.
Goods or materials imported by export zone locators are supposed to be re-exported back to another country. This means they are not considered importations and not subject to tariff duties.
Cebu Customs officials yesterday told Cebu Daily News the case is still under investigation and that no one has come forward to claim the sugar shipment. They also released copies of the letters of both Mactan export firms denying knowledge of or involvement in the sugar cargo.