The smuggling of sugar into the country has taken to new avenues, using business firms of formidable repute as unwitting fronts in order to sneak past the Bureau of Customs (BOC), it was learned yesterday.
The new modus operandi by big-time international smugglers was exposed in the recent interception of 57 containers of sugar smuggled from Thailand valued at P40 million by the BOC Intelligence Group (IG).
Initial BOC investigation showed that the shipment seized was consigned to a certain Rainbow Holdings, Inc., a Korean firm with offices in at Madrigal Business Park, Ayala, Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
However, further investigation showed that Rainbow President and CEO Grace Son Eukyoung had no idea about the huge sugar haul addressed to her company, which engages only in asphalt trading.
Ms. Son was outraged that the name of her firm was apparently framed by a smuggling syndicate to mislead the BOC and investigating authorities responsible for the ongoing crackdown on sugar smuggling.
“The battle against rice or sugar smuggling is not just in balikbayan boxes or random confiscation of suspected hot items or containers among traders but a total crackdown,” said Ms. Son. “So now, these syndicates use fall guy companies that will take the brunt if the shipment is seized.”
Rainbow Holdings has already sent a “disclaimer letter cum authorization” to the BOC to disown the shipment and deny any link, knowledge or association to its entry into the country.
The letter, addressed to Atty. Jemina Flores of the BOC Account Management Office; Deputy Commissioner Jessie Dellosa, chief of the IG; and BOC Commissioner Alberto Lina, stated that “that Rainbow Holdings Inc., with TIN: 00733190000 and with current office address at Unit 810 ALPAP II BLDG., TRADE ST., COR INVESTMENT DRIVE, MADRIGAL BUSINESS PARK, AYALA, ALABANG, MUNTINLUPA CITY, has no importation since July 21, 2015 and that the company’s importation for the year 2015 starting June to July is BITUMEN (ASPHALT).”
It further stated that it gives the BOC “full AUTHORITY to dispose of any importation from July 20 to present named to Rainbow Holdings Inc., for such importation do not belong to us.”
“This only shows that sugar is not our cup of tea,” said Ms. Son in an interview. “We do not do business with any sugar importation.”
The lady executive said Rainbow Holdings is one with other legitimate domestic and foreign business ventures in the Philippines that throw their full support on BOC efforts to get rid of smuggling.
“We are an all-legitimate company; and we fully support the Aquino administration in curbing illegal imports that use and abuse Customs officials and snatch from the revenues that the government should be earning if these were coursed through the normal process,” she said.
Ms. Son also stressed her company’s support to the Bureau of Customs when it deputizes SRA, SASO to intensify efforts against sugar smuggling, referring to an agreement among the BOC, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and the Sugar Anti-Smuggling Office of the Sugar Alliance of the Philippines (SASO) to have deputized representatives that will guard against sugar smuggling.
“We are one with the efforts to cleanse our government of crooks,” Ms. Son said. “We believe that curbing sugar smuggling in the country is a move consistent with the genuine desire of the ‘Tuwid na Daan’ policy of the administration of President PNoy,” she ended.# (Mariposa)