By Janina C. Lim and Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporters
THE Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has recommended to the Bureau of Customs (BoC) that it auction the 1.125 million kilos of smuggled refined sugar in the bureau’s custody.
The sugar, misdeclared as packaging materials, kitchen utensils and kraft paper, were seized early this month from 45 twenty-foot container vans, according to communications by the BoC disclosed by the SRA on Friday.
The SRA said the seized volume consists of 2,914 bags of 50 kilos each from Thailand, valued at P9.47 million, and 2,167 bags of 30 kilos each from Korea worth P4.23 million.
“Upon the letter requests from the Bureau of Customs, the Sugar Board recommended the floor price and reclassification of the smuggled sugar seized by the Bureau of Customs from the ports of Manila and Cagayan De Oro City,” lawyer Roland B. Beltran, a member of the SRA board, said in a mobile message on Friday.
“We recommended the floor price at P1,900.00, that it be classified as B or Domestic Sugar, and that those who will be allowed to participate in the auction should be the SRA-accredited local and international traders.”
SRA pegged the total volume’s value at P42.75 million.
The BoC also filed criminal charges in violation of the Customs Modernization and Tarrification Act and the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act against officers of Red Star Rising Corporation for smuggling sugar. The corporation’s officers charged were Dante P. Lunar, Leonardo C. Mallari, Richel Paranete Llanes, August Presillas Templado, and Bernie Abrina Rubia.
Apart from the misdeclaration, Red Star Rising Corporation had no import permits from the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).
BoC Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña has prioritized expediting the disposal of abandoned containers, which might lead to the eventual discovery of prohibited or regulated goods. He added that the agency will file more criminal charges in the succeeding weeks.
“The continuous filing of these cases is in line with my standing order to deter all forms of smuggling for the protection of the legitimate traders and the general public,” he said in a statement.
According to the BoC, a total of 17 criminal cases were filed against importers and brokers involved in agricultural smuggling since Mr. Lapeña assumed office last year.