Home » Customs & Trade, Ports/Terminals » BOC, sugar industry join hands in war vs smugglers

ID-100257780The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has deputized representatives from the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and Sugar Anti-Smuggling Office of the Sugar Alliance of the Philippines (SASO) to help in its intensified effort to curb sugar smuggling in the country.

BOC, SRA, and SASO on October 2 signed a memorandum of agreement which updates Joint Memorandum Order No. 4-2002 and authorizes SRA’s Luisito Malagkit and SASO’s Manuel Lamata and Edgard Lumanog to act as industry-expert advisers to the Office of the Commissioner on curtailing sugar smuggling.

“The illicit trade of sugar has placed an increasing burden on Customs and the industry itself,” Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina said.

He added that BOC “recognizes that in order to combat it more effectively, we need to work closely together with the experts in the industry through close cooperation and consultation, using information to zero in on smugglers.”

Lina, in a press conference after the MOA signing, said the target is to eliminate sugar smuggling 100% through the partnership.

Lumanog for his part said: “This singular act proves that the good Commissioner will not tolerate sugar smuggling in our ports and also provides a clear signal that he will protect our farmers and workers from the adverse effects of sugar smuggling.”

Under the MOA, all BOC officials and employees must extend assistance to the representatives and provide the necessary support and cooperation to ensure the success of the partnership against sugar smuggling activities.

Recently, SRA and SASO have repeatedly called on Malacañang to express their serious concern over the entry in recent months of smuggled sugar from Thailand. The group had even asked Lina to resign, alleging that sugar smuggling intensified during his term.

Lamata, during a press conference after the MOA signing, noted they had not personally known Lina previously, but are now certain he is with them in the drive to rub out illegal sugar importation.

P19.2M worth of sugar abandoned

In another development, the BOC recently seized a dozen containers of refined white sugar illegally imported from Thailand then abandoned by their consignees.

An alert on the shipments was issued with a Declaration of Abandonment by the Enforcement Group (EG) after the consignees failed to file an import entry, which can be construed as a lack of interest in claiming the shipments, BOC said in a statement. The failure to file the required import entry is in violation of Section 1801 (b) of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, as amended.

The twelve 40-foot containers were discovered to contain 7,200 bags each with 50 kilograms of refined white sugar. The bags, marked “Thai Roong Sugar,” have an estimated value of P19.2 million.

The products were concealed inside the shipment behind two layers of boxes containing stainless steel kettles and three layers of boxes holding plastic water jugs.

The two consignees—Strong Winds Enterprises and Real Top Enterprises—are already under investigation. BOC has revoked the accreditation of Real Top Enterprises, which is already facing several smuggling-related cases, and banned the company from making future shipments to the country.

“Recently, several container vans of smuggled sugar were nabbed by our Customs officials. This time, we have seized another bulk of sugar illegally imported from Thailand. We cannot afford to just shrug this issue off without doing anything. This is an important concern since sugar is a basic commodity, and rampant smuggling of sugar kills our local sugar industry,” EG deputy commissioner Ariel Nepomuceno said.

Image courtesy of Sailom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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