Port of Cebu authorities acted swiftly on smuggled sugar

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This refers to Neal H. Cruz’s column titled “Economic processing zones being used for smuggling” (Inquirer, 12/14/12).

We wish to state that there was nothing irregular with the way we handled the situation, contrary to what some quarters are insinuating. Very briefly, here is the chronology of events:

• On Nov. 22, 2012, subject shipment arrived at the Port of

Cebu from Thailand.

• At about 5 a.m. of Nov. 23, 2012, after reading an SMS message about the shipment from the X-ray Inspection Team, I immediately called the team and instructed its members to prepare the Alert Order, which I signed before 8 a.m. of that day.

• A warrant of seizure and detention was issued in the afternoon of Nov. 23, 2012, on the shipment for violation of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.

• On Nov. 29, 2012, Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon conducted a physical inspection of the seized articles.

• On Dec. 4, 2012, the Appraisal and Inventory Team of the Port of Cebu, in the presence of Customs police, conducted a physical inventory of the seized articles from the three containers that were earlier “released” but were pursued and recovered inside a warehouse in Mandaue City.

• On Dec. 6, 2012, we made a letter-request to the Sugar Regulatory Authority (SRA) requesting the agency to recommend a floor price for the articles for auction sale purposes, with the end in view of disposing the articles before they would depreciate greatly in value.

• On Dec. 11, 2012, a physical inventory of the contents of  the remaining seven containers was conducted at the holding area of the Bureau of Customs, which is located at the Cebu International Port.

• In the afternoon of  the same day (Dec. 11), an amended warrant of seizure and detention was issued to reflect the actual number of bags found during the physical inventory (5,118 bags).

• On Dec. 13, 2012, an order was issued declaring the subject articles forfeited in favor of the government and directing their sale in a public auction.

At present we are just waiting for SRA’s recommended floor price. As soon as we get it, the publication of the auction sale will follow, preparatory to the actual sale of the articles.

Rest assured that the local sugar producers will not be affected because the participating bidders will be food processors only.

It is clear from the above narration of facts that we acted swiftly and decisively on the matter, contrary to the negative  propaganda issuing from some quarters.

—RONNIE C. SILVESTRE,

district collector, Port of Cebu,

customs.cebu@gmail.com

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