OpinYon Subic-Clark


Nov 14, 2023, 5:03 AM



A huge shipment of imported vegetables arrives at Subic Port only to be confiscated by SBMA-Customs. They never learn…


SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Nine 40-foot container vans loaded with P42.6 million worth of vegetables were seized here late Wednesday, November 8, thwarting an attempt to smuggle them into the country.

A team from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC) apprehended the cargoes originally declared as frozen lobster balls from China.

SBMA Chairman & Administrator Jonathan D. Tan said the nine containers arrived at the port on Friday, November 3, and were consigned to Rianne Food Products.

Upon inspection, Tan said the shipments declared to contain 40,000 cartons of frozen lobster balls yielded P42, 605,847 worth of fresh potatoes, carrots, radishes and broccoli.

The discovery prompted the Bureau of Customs - Port of Subic to seize the misdeclared shipment for proper disposition and appropriate action.

No-nonsense campaign

Tan lauded the seizure as he assured the public that both the SBMA and the Bureau of Customs (BoC)-Port of Subic were serious about implementing the order of President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. to go after agricultural smugglers.

Bureau of Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio and BoC-Port of Subic acting district collector Ciriaco Ugay also commended the personnel behind the operation.

District Collector Ugay said that Commissioner Rubio and the rest of the BoC leadership have started a serious drive to monitor the importations coming through the Port of Subic to control the lucrative drug smuggling activity that has become rampant in Central Luzon.

Biggest drugs haul

It can be recalled that the Port of Subic, just 40 kilometers away from Pampanga’s frontier town of Lubao, has been identified by the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Justice as the gateway through which drugs contraband reached Luzon.

The latest in the series of big-time drugs smuggling was bared when a joint team of Customs, PDEA and police uncovered the presence of some 350 kilos of methamphetamine in a warehouse in Mexico, Pampanga last Sept. 27.

The illegal cargo weighed 530 kilos and was worth a staggering P3.6 billion. The methamphetamine was hidden in mixed red tea bags and golden tea bags placed inside brown boxes that also contained either a bag of pork rinds (chicharon) or a bag of dried fish “to conceal the illegal drugs, along with cases of soft drinks and sacks of feed with markings in Thai language.”

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the seizure operation at the warehouse in Purok 5, barangay San Jose Malino in Mexico was an accomplishment of a multi-agency effort led by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Others to be credited for the interception are the Bureau of Customs-Port of Subic, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

According to the NBI, the shipment arrived at Subic Port on Sept. 18 from Thailand on board the vessel Sitc Shekou.

Marcos on smuggling

Meanwhile, President Marcos Jr. has urged the Filipino people to join with the government’s fight against rice smugglers and hoarders who are destroying the flow of supply and demand of the staple food in the market.

The Chief Executive said that the government needs the help of the Filipino people to safeguard the country’s staple food against erring individuals.

“Nais ko na rin pong gamitin ang pagkakataong ito upang [hikayatin] kayo na makiisa sa pagbabantay laban sa smuggling at sa hoarding at mga sindikatong patuloy na namamayagpag sa pagsasamantala sa taumbayan,” President Marcos said.

“Tulungan po ninyo ang ating mga ahensya sa pagmamatyag upang mahuli at mapatawan ng angkop na parusa ang mga sumasabotahe sa sektor ng agrikultura at sa ating ekonomiya,” the President added.

President Marcos ordered the filing of cases against San Pedro Warehouse and Blue Sakura Agri Grain Corporation, F.S. Ostia Rice Mill, and Gold Rice Mill for violating the provisions of Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, Rice Tariffication Law, and Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, or Republic Act No. 10845.

The President said that all seized smuggled rice were distributed to Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) after importers failed to defend the legality of their importation. (With a report by ERIC PANGANIBAN)

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