Home » Customs & Trade, Ports/Terminals, Press Releases » BOC slaps criminal raps vs suspected rice, sugar smugglers

Bureau of Customs (BOC) spokesman Atty Erastus Sandino Austria (center) at the press conference announcing filing of charges against suspected rice and sugar smugglers. Photo courtesy of the BOC.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has filed criminal charges against the suspected importers of millions of pesos worth of smuggled rice and sugar for violating the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016 and Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

Criminal charges were filed on August 31 against the officers of Red Star Rising Corporation for smuggling sugar into the Philippines, and those of Sta. Rosa Farms for smuggling rice, BOC said in a statement.

Three criminal charges for violation of Section 1401 (Unlawful importation) in relation to Section 117 (Regulated Importation and Exportation) of the CMTA and Section 3 (Large-Scale Agricultural Smuggling as Economic Sabotage) of Republic Act (RA) No. 10845, or “An Act Declaring Large-Scale Agricultural Smuggling as Economic Sabotage,” were filed against the responsible officers of Red Star Rising. They were identified as Dante P. Lunar, Leonardo C. Mallari, Richel Paranete Llanes, August Presillas Templado, and Bernie Abrina Rubia. The charges were for the unlawful importation of white sugar into the country with an aggregate value, including duties and taxes, of P21.559 million.

Three shipments of Red Star composed of 16 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), which came from Thailand and arrived at Port of Manila on different dates in July 2018, were declared to contain packaging materials, kitchen utensils, and kraft paper. But upon inspection and physical examination, the shipments were discovered to contain white sugar and to lack the required import permit from the Sugar Regulatory Administration.

BOC earlier this month also filed four criminal charges against Red Star’s officers, likewise for the same violations involving the illegal importation of sugar estimated to be worth P59.762 million, including duties and taxes.

On the other hand, two criminal charges for similar violations were also filed against the responsible officers of Sta. Rosa Farms, namely, Jomerito S. Soliman, Dolores Opancia, Mary Grace D. Cayanan, Marileen S. Avañez, and the company’s licensed customs broker, Diosdado M. Santiago. They face lawsuits for importing into the country 50,000 sacks of rice with a total value of P120.708 million, and without the requisite National Food Authority (NFA) import permit.

BOC last July had also filed four criminal complaints against the owners, officers, and customs broker of Sta. Rosa Farms for importing illegally 200 containers of rice from Thailand without the required import permit.

BOC said the latest charges involving unlawful importation of agricultural products are the 32nd of cases already filed by the customs bureau under the watch of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña.

The customs chief has repeatedly stressed that large-scale smuggling of agricultural products constitutes economic sabotage and will be dealt with heavily by BOC.

“The resultant adverse effects of these unlawful importations to the local farmers and the consuming public warrant [the suspects’] prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. Because of this, the Bureau will continue its current pursuit to eliminate the smuggling of these agricultural products and bring behind bars all those who would be found liable for these unlawful activities,” Lapeña said.

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