GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/16 September) — Customs personnel seized on Monday around P9 million worth of suspected smuggled frozen suckling pigs and dressed chickens from Hong Kong that were unloaded three weeks ago at the Makar port here by a Singaporean cargo vessel.
Pendatun Alim, Bureau of Customs (BoC) port collector here, said the smuggled products were found inside a 40-footer Maersk Shipping container van that originated from Hong Kong as cited in its accompanying documents.
He said a team from the BoC’s Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) in Manila spearheaded the opening and seizure of the products at the Makar port here on Monday morning.
The container van yielded around 1,200 boxes that contained a mix of frozen suckling pigs and dressed chickens, he said.
“There was no import permit issued for the shipment so we consider it as illegal,” Alim told reporters.
The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) bureau of animal quarantine inspectors assigned at the port were not present when the BoC opened the shipment, which were initially believed to be possibly contaminated.
In April, DA imposed a temporary ban on the entry of poultry shipments from Hong Kong and China due to cases of the highly infectious H7N9 virus that causes the dreaded bird flu.
Based on the shipment’s documents, it was consigned to the Breakwater Enterprises, which listed its main address at Second Floor, Crown Building, Soriano Street, Mabolo, Cebu City.
The shipment arrived and was unloaded at the Makar port here last August 24 by a cargo vessel owned by MCC Transport Singapore Pte Ltd.
The BoC here decided to only open the container van on Monday to allow the presence of the CIIS operatives during the seizure of the contraband.
As of Monday, Alim said no individual or entity has come to their office to claim the shipment, which is now in the official custody of the BoC.
“If somebody will claim them and be able to present the same declaration and the required import permit, then we will consider them legal. But in the absence of those documents, the shipment will be subjected to automatic seizure,” he said.
The official said he will immediately process the issuance of a warrant of seizure and detention for the shipment.
“The bureau will officially apprehend the items then subject them to marathon hearings for their forfeiture in favor of the government,” Alim said.
Meantime, BoC-CIIS intelligence chief Eric Albano said they have been monitoring the shipment based on a report earlier received by their office.
“We tracked down the shipment and eventually found them here,” he said.
Albano said they are presently looking for another 40-footer container as the tip that they had received indicated that the alleged illegal shipment involved two container vans. (MindaNews)