Customs, DA crack down on suspected sugar hoarders
Two warehouses in San Jose del Monte Bulacan owned by a Chinese-Filipino sugar trader were separately raided by agents of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) late Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon as part of the government’s campaign against suspected sugar hoarders.
Acting on orders from Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez, the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) headed by officer-in-charge Joeffrey Tacio and the BoC’s Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) on Wednesday raided a warehouse along Kaypian Road, Barangay Kaypian in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.
Armed with Letter of Authority signed by Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz, the CIIS-ESS operatives found an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 sacks of different kinds of sugar which were neatly stacked in the warehouse owned by Victor Chua, who claimed that the his sugar stock was “locally purchased.”
The raid was made on instruction from Rodriguez, acting on a directive from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., for the BOC to exercise its visitorial powers to all customs bonded warehouse and to check on the inventory of imported agricultural products with the aim of finding out if there is hoarding of sugar.
Chua received a copy of the LOA which granted visitorial power to the BoC to inspect warehouses and facilities suspected of storing smuggled goods or of committing other violations of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
Tacio said the CIIS is doing an inventory of the seized sugar and gave the warehouse owners 15 days to present the necessary documents and other evidence on why they should not face prosecution and why the seized sugar should not be forfeited in favor of the government.
Another warehouse owned by Chua in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan was also visited by the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Agriculture Thursday afternoon.
Assistant Agriculture Secretary Federico Laciste Jr. was assisted by the provincial Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the local unit of the Philippine National Police led by San Jose Del Monte chief of police Lt. Col. Cris Cordero.
The floor area of the Chua-owned warehouse was between 2,000 and 3,000 square meters with an estimated 42,733 sacks of sugar which is roughly equivalent to 2,150 metric tons worth P215 million, according to estimates by Atty. Aguinaldo of BoC.
The joint BoC-DA raid was based on information that the warehouse owned by Chua has been storing hoarded sugar aimed at raking huge profits from the current high sugar prices in the market.
Earlier in Pampanga, BoC agents from the CIIS and ESS based in the Port of Clark raided a warehouse raided the Lison Building that houses the New Public Market located in Barangay Del Pilar here. Barangay officials and the local unit PNP unit assisted the BoC agents.
The BoC is investigating reports that the Pampanga warehouse had long been smuggling sugar from Thailand, repacking them and then sold as “local sugar.” The modus was indicated by old sacks of Thailand sugar the BoC agents found in the premises but were not properly disposed.
The initial report reaching the BOC concluded that the sacks of sugar “appeared old and dusty, evidenced of its prolonged storage/hoarding (presumably) to dictate the market prices of sugar.” Office of the Press Secretary