BOC-Subic exec denies smuggling allegations

By Justine Rich Talusan

A DISTRICT collector yesterday denied the allegations that the Bureau of Customs-Port of Subic has become a haven of smuggling.

According to District collector Maritess “Meeks” Martin their record speaks for itself.

She said last year, they confiscated 56 containers of smuggled agricultural products worth P529 million.

According to Martin, the BOC-POS has always been coordinating with the Department of Agriculture (DA), particularly with Assistant Secretary James Layug, and the vigilant farmers’ group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag).

They recently launched joint operations last December that resulted in the confiscation of millions of pesos worth of smuggled white onions, fish, and frozen meat products concealed in 17 container vans.

House Committee on Ways and Means chairman and  Albay Rep. Joey Salceda earlier said lawmakers will look into reports of alleged rampant agricultural smuggling at Subic Port.

In a statement, the DA said that in line with the anti-smuggling campaign of the national government, three containers placed under an alert status by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) as requested by the DA Inspectorate and Enforcement Office (DA I&E) earlier this week, were examined and investigated on December 6, 2022.

The inspection of the suspicious shipments at the Port of Subic was conducted by BOC, together with the DA I&E, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Chamber of Customs Brokers Inc (CCBI), and Port of Subic (POS).

During the joint intelligence work of District collector Martin and DA representatives under the authority of Assistant Secretary Layug, it was discovered that the shipment contained in a 40-footer container of Veneta Consumer Goods Trading labeled as assorted consumables contained frozen carrots.

The two 4-footer containers of Lalavy Aggregates Trading labeled as frozen lobster balls and crabsticks actually contained fresh red and white onions.

Ironically, one kilo of red onions now costs not less than P600 in public markets.

The combined estimated value of the seized agricultural product was P20.193 million.

However, Salceda claimed that he has “credible information” that the Subic port undercharges tariffs per container van by just as much as 1/8 of the actual tariff dues or around P100,000 per container van of imported meat instead of P800,000.