P116M in hot stuff

THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) Port of Cebu yesterday seized smuggled rice, sugar, guns, a motorcycle, bags and fashion accessories in the cities of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu.

It said the confiscated goods were worth a total of P116 million.

Top BOC officials began by examining 10 20-foot cargo containers, which held allegedly smuggled rice valued at P10 million. They then proceeded to examine four other 20-foot containers containing P5 million worth of sugar, which they also suspected was smuggled.

Commissioner Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon and Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Danny Lim joined Director Fernandino Tuazon of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) and Port of Cebu District Collector Edward dela Cuesta
for the examinations.

From the Cebu International Port (CIP), the officials went to the district collector’s office, where they inspected four guns that were brought in allegedly without an import permit.

They also raided a store in Lapu-Lapu for carrying allegedly fake high-end bags, then seized on motorcycle in a cargo forwarder’s office.

All the consignees and the customs brokers who handled the shipments will be charged in court, Biazon said.

In his official Twitter account (@CommissionerBOC), Biazon said there were around 5,000 sacks of the smuggled rice, while the smuggled sugar filled around 1,900 bags.

CIIS-Cebu Assistant Supervisor Arneth Von Manquiquis said the sugar arrived in Cebu last Nov. 3 and 10, 2012 from Thailand.

Nobody filed an import entry, so a warrant of seizure and detention (WSD) was filed by the district collector last Feb. 5.

The smuggled rice and sugar were placed in the Port of Cebu holding area at the CIP, on Collector dela Cuesta’s orders.

Lim said the bureau will continue to coordinate with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other government agencies to stop the illegal importation of rice and sugar.

“This is the way to protect the interests of Filipino farmers,” Lim said.

From the CIP, Biazon proceeded to dela Cuesta’s office, where the district collector presented the seized guns.

These were a US-made caliber .22 Jennings pistol, one M16 rifle, one .357 magnum revolver and one 9mm pistol, which were consigned to Ronald Banks and estimated to be worth P200,000.

Dela Cuesta said that although the consignee showed licenses of the guns in his name, he had no import permit.

Major Camilo Cascolan said that the consignee was unaware that it’s illegal to bring firearms to Cebu without proper documentation.

After the inspection of the seized firearms, Biazon, Lim, Tuazon and dela Cuesta proceeded to Shang Building in Pusok, Lapu-Lapu city and raided AHA Real Value Fashion Collection.

An estimated P100 million worth of fake high-end bags were found, they said.

Dela Cuesta ordered the establishment padlocked, pending an investigation.

“We will conduct an inventory of all the imported stocks of the firm that are on display and in their warehouse. We will summon the Korean owner to explain how he imported the high-end bags and other items and to show proof that he paid duties and taxes,” dela Cuesta said.

Biazon and his group proceeded to U-Freight Cargo Forwarder and seized one used Raptor motorcycle worth P800,000.

“The smuggler used a locator in the Mactan Economic Zone by misdeclaring the motorcycle as machinery parts for plant production,” Biazon said.

Atty. Paul Alcazaren, sub-port collector for Mactan, said they discovered the allegedly untaxed bags and fashion accessories during a test-buy.
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