SINAG urges BoC to probe new smuggling racket
The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) is urging the Bureau of Customs (BoC) to run after syndicates preying on unsuspecting Customs Bonded Warehouses (CBWs) as cover for smuggling.
This, after it hailed Senator Panfilo Lacson’s filing of the first economic sabotage case against erring customs officials for alleged involvement in rice smuggling.
In a statement, SINAG chair Rosendo So said smuggling continues to flourish because those who benefit from the illegal trade have never been punished.
“Those who allow smuggling to prosper are not punished despite new laws to combat the illict trade of agricultural products and several changes in the BoC leadership,” So said.
The multi agri-group urged customs chief Isidro Lapena to look into the new modus of smugglers who are allegedly preying on unsuspecting CBW owners.
SINAG said it has received reports that “players” (smugglers) are allegedly coopting CBW warehousemen and security personnel to allow use of their CBW as consignees for smuggled items without the knowledge of their principals.
CBWs are facilities established for the manufacture of products utilizing raw materials or components that are imported duty and tax-free conditioned on the exportation of the finished products within the a prescribed period.
Last week, Lacson charged former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon with graft and economic sabotage for allegedly sanctioning the entry of smuggled rice in Cagayan De Oro.
“The anti-agricultural smuggling law (RA 10845) has been in place since last year yet, no cases have been filed against smugglers and their cohorts in government, until this filing of Senator Lacson,” So said.
“We hope that with this landmark case, smugglers and their accomplices or handlers in government would think twice. Under RA 10845, smuggling of agricultural commodity is a non-bailable offense, imposes heavier penalties and perpetually disqualifies erring public officials from holding another government position,” he added.
In the last five years, SINAG research suggests that close to P200 billion worth of agricultural goods were smuggled into the country.