By Mortz C. Ortigoza
ROSALES – The chairman of the anti-smuggling group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) said the Bureau of Custom (BoC) would file this month the new Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016 to those involved on the smuggling of sugar and rice in the country.
Engineer Rosendo So said the smuggling case of multi-million pesos worth of sugar that ensued in August last year would be filled this month because the BOC wanted a strong case against those involved.
“Kasi ang gusto ng BOC walang lusot e sealed. Pero ano naman ang BOC may kaso sila inaayos ang documents identification nila, sino ang mga ito. Kailangan malakas ang kaso,” he stressed in Pilipino.
Some of those involved in the smuggling of rice, according to Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, were police generals and the Zamboanga Custom Collector.
"My sources identified a certain Superintendent Ariel Huesca and SPO4 Estino, reportedly members of the intelligence group of the PNP in Zamboanga City as the point men of two police generals who are involved in the smuggling of agricultural commodities through the Zamboanga City's small ports," he was quoted by news reports last August 2016.
Sources according to Piñol also implicated Zamboanga City Customs Collector Benhur Arabani in the unlawful act.
The Bantay Dagat’s operatives apprehended the crew of M/B Sitti Aini, loaded with 584 bags of refined sugar, in Barangay Taluksangay, Zamboanga City.
The crew of two other boats were nabbed by the operatives in the same place.
SINAG Chairman So added that the two illegal shipments of multi-million pesos of rice in Manila last August and November last year would be part of the criminal cases to be filled this month.
The twelve container vans carrying imported rice from China arrived at the South Harbor in the Port of Manila last August 20, 2016.
The consignor declared them to be filled with leatherette but was found by BoC officials to contain smuggled rice worth P20 million.
They were consigned to RPR International Trading in Sta. Cruz, Manila.
The other shipments of smuggled rice were discovered in November 7 and 13, 2016. The 26 shipping containers worth P40 million were apprehended at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).
Commissioner Faeldon was alerted about the shipments after spurious documents were reportedly used to release the containers.
Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016 cited that a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of twice the fair value of the smuggled agricultural product and the aggregate amount of the taxes, duties and other charges avoided shall be imposed on any person who commits any of the acts enumerated under Section 3 of the Act. Section 3 cited the crime of large-scale agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage, involving sugar, corn, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, fish, and cruciferous vegetables, in its raw state, or which have undergone the simple processes of preparation or preservation for the market, with a minimum amount of one million pesos, or rice, with a minimum amount of ten million pesos, as valued by the BOC.
So, who is also the chairman of the Abono Party-List, rated the performance of BoC Chief Nicanor Faeldon with a seven in a rating of one-to-ten for the last six months of last year.
“Tingin ko seven,” he said.