Ninety (90) forty-footer container vans of illegally imported rice from Vietnam worth Php42.5 million pesos were recently seized at the Port of Subic by alert Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials during a joint operation by the Office of the Commissionerâ€™s REACT Task Force, Enforcement Group (EG) and the Port of Subic District Collectorâ€™s Office.
According to Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon, the 90 forty-footer vans containing 45,000 bags of rice stacked in it were consigned to Masagana Import Export, Inc., of 2161 P. Paterno St., De La Paz, Binan, Laguna and Oriental Tradelink Express, Inc. of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
Biazon said, the entire rice shipment came from Vietnam and were declared in their entries as construction materials and gypsum boards.
â€œThis is a large scale attempt to smuggle rice into the country by misdeclaring the illegal shipment of rice which, had it not been for our alert customs operatives, could have affected the livelihood of many of our local farmers,â€ Biazon said, adding that, â€œWe will vigorously pursue charges against those involved in this attempt.â€
Biazon further stressed that the milestones of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in its fight against smuggling, like the recent arrest of a Malaysian national who tried to sneak in four (4) kilos of â€œshabuâ€ at the airport and this seizure of 45,000 bags of rice are the results of the BOCâ€™s enhanced monitoring of all shipment entering our seaports and airports.
â€œWe are virtually close to completing the loop that will interconnect the BOC with all other regulating agencies involved in the processing of import permits and clearances through the National Single Window (NSW).Â With human intervention practically minimized, if not totally eliminated in the process, this would eventually translate into a higher level of integrity in all customs transactions,â€ Biazon stressed.
Some of the countryâ€™s Freeport Zones, because of their duty free privileges for their locators, have been tapped by some unscrupulous traders as entry points for their shipment. But because of the BOCâ€™s close monitoring of these economic zones, most, if not all of the illegal shipment coursed through the Freeport Zones, like the 45,000 bags of illegally imported rice from Vietnam have been seized.
â€œWe will never allow the smugglers to exploit the privileges being offered by the government to legitimate locators of all Freeport Zones,â€ Biazon pointed out.