Undocumented lumber from Davao seized in Manila

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/2 June) – Ten container vans packed with undocumented lumber from Davao City were seized last week in Manila, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) reported.

In a statement, Commissioner Lito Alvarez said the illegal cargo consisted mostly of lauan species were declared by fictitious consignees as “various goods and assorted materials.”

“Customs informants believe a more thorough inventory will show that there are other protected species in there as well that under Philippine forestry laws are considered beyond the commerce of man,” he said.

Although estimates vary pending the completion of cargo examination and inventory by personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Alvarez said the most conservative estimate put the value of the seized lumber at no less than P3 million.

Customs Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement Horacio Suansing disclosed that the contraband came from Davao and was intercepted May 9 at Pier 14 at Manila’s North Harbor.

“The lumber shipment was seized for violating the coast wide trade provision of Section 907 of the Tariff and Customs Code which penalizes false declaration and misdeclaration of cargoes,” said Customs Police Director Nestorio Gualberto.

He added that the lumber shipment was also not covered by a valid permit issued by the DENR.

Suansing said it did not surprise him that the consignees failed to claim the detained lumber within the 72-hour grace period because of information that they were using fictitious names and operating under false pretenses.

Alvarez said BOC has put the protection of natural resources on top of its anti-smuggling priorities.

“This recent accomplishment of the customs enforcement group which came close on the heels of the agency’s recent high-profile wildlife trade bust should serve as a grim reminder to smugglers, especially those involved in the illegal harvesting of endangered and protected resources,” he said. (Rico Biliran / MindaNews)