Smuggling still lucrative: BOC foils entry of P124-M agri goods
MANILA, Philippines — Smuggling of agricultural goods has remained lucrative despite the enactment of Republic Act No. 10845, the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) said on Sunday, after the Bureau of Customs (BOC) foiled the entry of some P124 million worth of smuggled agricultural products from China.
RA 10845, or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, refers to large-scale agricultural smuggling, or shipments worth at least P1 million for the majority of farm products or a minimum of P10 million for rice.
“Til this day, smugglers remain emboldened dahil wala naman napaparusahan sa kanila (none of them are penalized until now), including their cohorts in both the Department of Agriculture and the BOC,” Sinag executive director Jayson Cainglet said in a Viber message to the Inquirer.
“Pinaghirapan ng industriya na maisabatas ito, subalit malinaw na binalewala ito ng mga ahensyang dapat nagpoprotekta sa local agriculture (The industry worked hard to have this signed into law, but the agencies that are supposed to protect the agriculture sector have clearly ignored it),” he added.
According to Raniel Ramiro, BOC deputy commissioner for intelligence, Daniry Consumer Goods Trading had declared a shipment for hot pot balls, but it was found to contain P75 million worth of frozen duck and chicken parts.
Another company, Jeroce Consumer Goods Trading, also misdeclared P49 million worth of pork and poultry products as steamed buns.
Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service Director Jeoffrey Tacio said they intercepted the shipments at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) after receiving information that the shipping containers were holding misdeclared goods. He said the shipments were then made to pass through subsequent examinations.
During the examination of Daniry Consumer Goods’ shipment on June 23, Customs agents found frozen whole duck, duck legs and chicken thighs instead of hot pot balls.
Jeroce Consumer Goods’ container, on the other hand, was found to hold frozen pork hind feet, pork spare ribs and chicken wings instead of steamed buns during the examination last June 21.
MICP district collector Romy Allan Rosales said they have issued the corresponding warrant of seizure and detention against the shipments.
He also ordered the filing of antismuggling cases against the consignees for possible violation of Section 1400 (misdeclaration) in relation to Section 1113 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and other related laws and regulations.
In a Senate hearing last April on the rampant smuggling of agricultural products, senators disclosed the names of four alleged big-time smugglers, but failed in pressuring agriculture officials to disclose the names of their supposed protectors responsible for emboldening the “brazen” display of their illegal activities.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he had obtained a dossier from the intelligence units of the agriculture department and the Department of Trade and Industry naming Manuel Tan, Andrew Chang and Luz Cruz as alleged vegetable smugglers. Also on Sotto’s list was the handwritten name of Mayor Democrito “Jun” Diamante of Tuburan town in Cebu province as an alleged smuggler of agri-fishery products.
According to Sotto, Tan supposedly operates in the ports of Subic in Zambales, Cagayan de Oro (CDO) and Batangas, while Chang purportedly does business in Subic and Batangas ports, MICP and at the Port of Manila.
Cruz, tagged as the “onion queen,” also operates in the ports of Subic, MICP and CDO, while Diamante allegedly operates at the CDO port.
Diamante was already tagged by Sen. Panfilo Lacson in a 2017 exposé of alleged bribery of BOC officials under the agency’s “tara” or payola system.
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