Oliver Bugarin 12 0 0 6 min to read

7K MT of sugar seized confirms plan to smuggle SO 4

A confirmation of information that reached the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) that Sugar Order (SO) No. 4, which Malacanang opposed, could have been utilized as a front for sugar smuggling, led to the seizure of around 7,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar at the Subic Port in Zambales.

However, since SO 4 was abandoned, those responsible for the attempted smuggling of 140,000 bags of sugar in Subic have turned to “recycled import permits,” which are licenses for previous allocations, like those issued by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) for Sugar Order No. 3 approved in February.

Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez had previously expressed concern about the SRA’s inability to account for the remaining 63,000 MT of sugar from the 200,000 MT under SO 3 that had been authorized by the Sugar Regulatory Board.

According to information obtained by the OES, a shipload of imported sugar was smuggled into Subic Port last week using a similar scheme and “recycled import licenses.”

A number of people were named in the OES report as supposedly controlling Subic Port, including “Buboy” and “Reggie,” who both use the consignees “Kysse Lish” and “Foxxie.”

The OES report stated, “This is obviously economic sabotage, and this offense is non-bailable.”

Heads may be rolled at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) if evidence reveals that any of the bureau’s port employees colluded with smugglers using recycled sugar import permits, according to press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles.

She also said that at least one of the warehouses examined yesterday in Bulacan and Pampanga did not have an SRA registration.

“When the owner stated that the stockpiling was caused by low sales, doubts were raised. Slack sales are ‘Matumal’ daw, according to Cruz-Angeles.

“Gamit pa daw ang permit from Sugar Order No. 3, dun pa sa hinarang na cargo. If this is the case, it is quite suspicious that the authorization from Sugar Order No. 3 was utilized to export the prohibited consignment, according to Lalong. If this is the case, Sugar Order No. 4’s unexpected release raises more red flags),” she continued.

The executive secretary had received instructions from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for law enforcement officials to visit and inspect all customs-bonded warehouses in order to assess the inventory of imported agricultural items in an effort to identify any sugar hoarding.

Rodriguez further instructed law enforcement to look into the likelihood that the purportedly “locally procured” sugar discovered in the two Bulacan warehouses was really imported and repackaged in bags bearing local brand names.

Recall that Rodriguez informed Manila Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao that his office is looking into claims that certain traders are pushing for the aggressive importation of 300,000 MT in order to use it as a “cover” for them to release the sugar they had been hoarding but were unable to release because doing so would lower prices.

In his August 17 column, Tiglao stated that “one report suggested this might result in windfall gains for them of at least PHP300 million, and a part of this amount has been mobilized as lobby money.”

Untrustworthy traders who are currently hoarding their supplies of sugar in order to profit from the current manufactured sugar shortage situation should take note of the unexpected inspections to the warehouses in Pampanga and Bulacan, Rodriguez added.

After discovering that the import permit used for the shipment was “recycled,” Customs agents in the Port of Subic prevented the smuggling of 7,021 metric tons of sugar from Thailand on Thursday afternoon.

The 19 crew members of the cargo ship MV Bangpakaew, which was discovered to be loaded with 7,021 metric tons of Thailand white refined sugar, or 140,000 bags, and with a total tax payment valued at PHP45,623,007, are being held in prison at the Subic Port.

Initial inquiry revealed that Oro-Agritrade, Inc., under the accounts of ARC Refreshments Corp. under Entry Nos. C-12513 and C-12521 is the consignee of the illicit sugar.

Ruamkamlarp Export Co. Ltd. is described as the Thai exporter, and Malou Leynes Buerano is listed as the local customs broker.

The shipment is protected by a “Special Permit to Discharge (SPD) and Validated Single Administrative Document (SAD)” from BOC and with a verified clearance from the SRA through a certain Rondell Manjarres, according to the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service.

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