Home » Customs & Trade, Ports/Terminals, Press Releases » Importer, broker, BOC employees in attempted smuggling of P13.5M worth of sugar charged

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has filed criminal charges against an importer, a customs broker, and 12 customs employees who were allegedly cohorts in the attempted smuggling of 5,000 sacks of sugar into the Philippines.

BOC on August 22 filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) charges against Don Trading, whose reported attempt to recently smuggle the sacks of sugar through the Manila International Container Port (MICP) was discovered by the customs bureau.

BOC in a statement said it also discovered the attempt of 12 customs employees to cover up the illegal importation. It said the employees “fraudulently reported to the Customs chief that they found no irregularities in the declarations in the import entry despite the alert order issued.”

Don Trading’s six shipments, declared to contain refractory mortar, arrived at MICP from Thailand and were issued an alert by the BOC-MICP district collector upon the instruction of Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña. BOC said the customs examiners and officials at MICP recommended the lifting of the alert orders and submitted examination reports informing Lapeña that the shipments were all in order.

Lapeña, however, ordered the six shipments re-examined after he became suspicious of the findings submitted to his office, BOC said. Upon re-examination on August 16, the shipments were discovered to actually contain sugar, which meant the examination report and pictures taken during the examination were all fraudulently prepared.

Consequently, six criminal charges for violation of Section 1403 (Fraudulent Practices Against Customs Revenue) and Section 1401 (Unlawful Importation) in relation to Section 1400 (Misdeclaration) and Section 117 of Republic Act (RA) No. 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA); Section 3 of RA No. 10845, otherwise known as An Act Declaring Large-Scale Agricultural Smuggling as Economic Sabotage; and Article 171 and 172 (Falsification) of the Revised Penal Code have been filed against Dennis Orlanda Narra, who is the owner of Don Trading, and licensed customs broker Ameloden Buruan Riga, for their alleged unlawful importation of sugar with an aggregate value, including duties and taxes, of P13.522 million.

The 12 customs employees charged with conspiring with the importer and customs broker to facilitate the release of the misdeclared sugar were identified as customs examiners Ruel Pantaleon, Raul Cimagala Jr., Vanzandt Remonde, Edmar Batino, and Robert Tuason; customs appraisers Jose Saromo, Benjamen Cayao, Leonora Navarro, and Arlene Salazar; MICP officer-in-charge district collector Fidel Benigno B. Villanueva, who approved the recommendation for the lifting of alert orders; special assistant on assessment for the district collector Terencio Comon; and Office of the District Collector representative Gerardo Porible, who acted as the witness for the false examinations.

In addition, the BOC employees were also charged with violation of Section 1431 (Statutory Offenses of Officers and Employees) (d), (e), (f), and (g) of the CMTA.

Since August 2017, Lapeña, through the Bureau’s Action Team Against Smugglers (BATAS), has filed 54 criminal cases against erring importers and customs brokers.

Lapeña noted that this is the seventh consecutive week that the BOC has filed criminal cases against smugglers, indicating the determination of the current leadership to address smuggling in the country.

“The instant filing of the criminal charges does not necessarily mean that we are putting an end to this issue. This is just the first step of our action. Continuous investigation is being conducted and other BOC personnel that will be identified to have dipped their fingers in these illegal acts will be charged as well,” Lapeña said.

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