Home » Customs & Trade, Ports/Terminals, Press Releases » BOC insists it auctioned off only tapioca starch, not shabu

During the raid in Malabon warehouse on May 23. Photo from the Bureau of Customs.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) said that what it auctioned off last month was a shipment of tapioca starch and not methamphetamine hydrochloride (locally known as shabu).

The BOC statement was issued on May 31 amid Senator Panfilo Lacson’s questioning as to why the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the customs agency decided to auction off a shipment containing more than P1 billion-worth of shabu as a means to smoke out the real owner of the merchandise.

“Did Customs and PDEA officials really expect the owners of this shipment to actually participate in the said public auction knowing fully well that forfeited and seized commodities undergo 100 percent physical examination prior to disposition?” Lacson asked in a privilege speech on May 29.

BOC agreed that the auction of prohibited items is not allowed and should have been destroyed under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), as pointed out by Lacson.

“As far as the BOC is concerned, what was auctioned in April 2019 was tapioca starch which is highly perishable in nature.”

It may be recalled that BOC, PDEA and other government agencies found an estimated 146 kilograms of shabu with an approximate street value of P1 billion in a joint raid on a warehouse in Malabon City.

In a May 25 Facebook post, BOC said the joint operation conducted on May 23 discovered illegal drugs inserted in 30 aluminum pallets where the tonner bags containing the tapioca starch were placed. Each of the pallets had five hollow bars across its frame, of which three to four of the hollow bars per pallet contained the illegal drugs.

The tapioca starch was imported from Cambodia.

The Manila International Container Port (MICP) received information from PDEA that a shipment of tapioca starch consigned to Goroyam Trading, may contain illegal drugs.

“We take all reports of alleged existence of drugs seriously. That is why we immediately reviewed the shipments that passed through MICP and even subsequent shipments which arrived at the Port after we received the intelligence report,” MICP District Collector Atty. Erastus Sandino B. Austria said.

Through this method, the BOC was able to identify a shipment that fits the profile of the suspected drug importation that may have arrived in the country last January 27, 2019 from Cambodia. It was declared to contain 51,000 kilos of tapioca starch exported by HKSTC Trading Co. Ltd in three units of 20-footer container vans.

The shipment was forfeited in favor of the government last March 1, 2019 after the consignee failed to file an import entry with Customs.

The Customs and PDEA jointly inspected the three containers and were able to verify that the shipment indeed contain illegal drugs. But instead of immediately seizing the illegal shipment, they decided to allow the shipment to be auctioned off.

During the public auction held on April 22, 2019, Goldwin Commercial won the bidding on the three containers of tapioca starch.

The authorities then conducted a background check on the winning bidder to determine if it had connections with illegal drugs syndicates, but there was no evidence showing that the proprietors of Goldwin were involved in any drug syndicate or smuggling activities.

When the shipment was claimed by Goldwin on May 22, 2019, the authorities conducted the joint operation at the warehouse of Goldwin Commercial in Malabon and discovered the hidden drugs in the pallets.

According to PDEA Director Aaron N. Aquino, this shipment of illegal drugs “is connected to PDEA’s Dasmariñas Cavite operation last February 13 where they seized 36 kilos of shabu worth P244 million, and their operation in Tanza Cavite last February 3 where 274 kilos of shabu worth P1.9 billion was seized.”

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four × 3 =