Customs officials at Subic port cleared of sugar smuggling allegations

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 1)  The Bureau of Customs (BOC) officials at the Subic port who were transferred to another office amid a sugar smuggling investigation have been reinstated and cleared of the allegations.

BOC Acting Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz on Thursday said he has directed the six officials to return to their posts after the bureau concluded its probe on the shipment of some 7,000 metric tons of refined sugar from Thailand.

“Results of the investigation conducted by the Internal Inquiry and Prosecution Division of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service showed that there was no negligence on the part of the BOC-Port of Subic personnel in the discharge of their duties,” he said in a statement.

In an Aug. 31 order, Ruiz said the following will assume their former positions:

- Maritess Theodossis Martin, district collector

- Maita Sering Acevedo, deputy collector for assessment

- Giovanni Ferdinand Aguillon Leynes, deputy collector for operations

- Belinda Fernando Lim, chief of assessment division

- Vincent Mark Solamin Malasmas, enforcement security service commander

- Justice Roman Silvoza Geli, Customs intelligence and investigation service supervisor

The six were “relieved” and transferred to the BOC Office of the Commissioner last week — a standard procedure while awaiting results of the inquiry, according to the bureau.

‘No irregularities’

The BOC said its probe found no irregularities in the Aug. 18 shipment of sugar from Thailand worth over ₱45 million. 

Ruiz said the clearances from the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) for the cargo proved to be authentic and not recycled, as it first reported after an initial investigation.

“The issuance of the certifications by the SRA negated all the allegations of sugar smuggling and effectively cleared and/or absolved the BOC-Port of Subic from any irregularities with regard to the processing of the shipments,” he said.

In recent weeks, the bureau has also conducted raids of sugar warehouses for alleged hoarding. These came amid reports of shortage of the commodity, resulting in a spike in sugar prices.

Tens of thousands of sacks have since been seized in separate operations in Luzon, with Malacañang earlier saying the raids showed that the sugar shortage in the country is artificial, brought about by the hoarding of traders who want to rake in profits.