AN importer was sentenced by a metropolitan court to up to 4-year imprisonment for agricultural smuggling after misdeclaring a shipment of carrots as pastry buns, according to the Customs bureau.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) said the Metropolitan Trial Court-National Judicial Capital Region (MTC-NJCR) Branch 24 convicted a certain Divina Bisco Aguilar, the proprietor of “Real Mart,” for violation of Customs laws.
The court promulgated its verdict last September 8, the BOC said. The conviction came three years after the bureau filed a criminal complaint with the Department of Justice last September 10, 2020, the agency added.
Aguilar was sentenced to a prison term of three years and one day to four years, according to the BOC.
The case stems from an incident that occurred on June 26, 2020, when a shipment consigned to Real Mart arrived at the BOC-Port of Manila from Singapore. The consignee, owned by Divina Bisco Aguilar, declared the shipment to contain 2,500 cartons of frozen pastry buns, read the bureau’s statement issued last Sunday.
“However, suspicions were raised when a derogatory report was received by the Port of Manila, prompting a physical examination of the shipment,” it added.
Upon inspection, the Customs bureau discovered that the shipment contained carrots instead of the declared frozen pastry buns. Subsequently, a warrant of seizure and detention was issued against the shipment, and appropriate charges were filed against the owner of Real Mart, it added.
The legal battle that followed involved years of preliminary investigation and court hearingsaccording to the BOC. Finally, on September 8, 2023, the MTC-NJCR Branch 24 rendered its verdict, finding the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for violation of Section 1401 in relation to Sections 102 and 1400 of Republic Act (RA) 10863, commonly known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), the BOC added.
The BOC said there is another pending case filed against the same importer before a regional trial court for violation of RA 10845 or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act as the value of the shipment involved met the minimum P1-million threshold for large scale smuggling as economic sabotage.
“In another incident, the BOC filed two criminal complaints with the DOJ on September 8 and 15, 2023,” it said.
“These cases involve the misdeclaration of various goods from Korea without approved clearance from the Food and Drug Administration and the exportation of a universal CT tester with a falsified General Authorization Certificate. These incidents are in violation of relevant provisions of the CMTA,” it added.