SUGAR WAREHOUSE. The Bureau of Customs (BOC) agents inspect an estimated over 42,000 sacks of sugar after exercising their visitorial powers in a warehouse in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan province on Thursday (Aug. 18, 2022). The joint BOC-Department of Agriculture raid was based on information that the warehouse owned by Victor Chua has been storing hoarded sugar allegedly aimed at raking huge profits from the current high sugar prices in the market. (Photo courtesy of Radyo Pilipinas)

MANILA – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) agents conducted separate visits to two warehouses owned by a Chinese-Filipino sugar trader in the city of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan as part of the government’s campaign against suspected sugar hoarders.

Acting on orders from Executive Secretary Atty. Victor Rodriguez, the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) headed by officer-in-charge, Joeffrey Tacio, and the BOC’s Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) raided a warehouse along Kaypian Road, Barangay Kaypian in San Jose del Monte on Wednesday.

Armed with a Letter of Authority signed by BOC Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz, the CIIS-ESS operatives found an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 sacks of different kinds of sugar which were neatly stacked in the warehouse owned by Victor Chua, who claimed that his sugar stock was “locally purchased.”

Chua received a copy of the LOA which granted visitorial power to the BOC to inspect warehouses and facilities suspected of storing smuggled goods or of committing other violations of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

Tacio said the CIIS is currently doing an inventory of the seized sugar and gave the warehouse owners 15 days to present the necessary documents and other evidence on why they should not face prosecution and why the seized sugar should not be forfeited in favor of the government.

The BOC and the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday afternoon also visited another warehouse owned by Chua in San Jose del Monte City.
DA Assistant Secretary Federico Laciste Jr. was assisted by the provincial Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the local unit of the Philippine National Police led by San Jose Del Monte chief of police, Lt. Col. Cris Cordero.

The floor area of the Chua-owned warehouse was between 2,000 and 3,000 square meters with an estimated 42,733 sacks of sugar which is roughly equivalent to 2,150 metric tons worth PHP215 million, according to estimates by Atty. Aguinaldo of BOC.

The joint BOC-DA raid was based on information that the warehouse owned by Chua has been storing hoarded sugar allegedly aimed at raking huge profits from the current high sugar prices in the market.

Earlier, BOC agents, assisted by barangay officials and local police, raided the Lison Building that houses the New Public Market located in Barangay Del Pilar in Pampanga.

The government authorities conducted the raid upon the instruction of Rodriguez through the directive of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for the BOC to exercise its visitorial powers to all customs bonded warehouses and to check on the inventory of imported agricultural products with the aim of finding out if there is hoarding of sugar.

The BOC is investigating reports that the Pampanga warehouse had long been smuggling sugar from Thailand, repacking them and then sold as “local sugar.” The modus was indicated by old sacks of Thailand sugar the BOC agents found on the premises but were not properly disposed.

The initial report reaching the BOC concluded that the sacks of sugar “appeared old and dusty, evidenced of its prolonged storage/hoarding (presumably) to dictate the market prices of sugar.” (OPS)