SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority has blacklisted three customs brokers for their involvement in an attempted smuggling of expensive liquor worth around P40 million.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said this was the initial action of the agency in connection with the smuggling attempt that was foiled by the SBMA Law Enforcement Department just before Christmas.
The SBMA Seaport Department identified the blacklisted brokers as Ellen Baylon, an authorized representative of the brokerage firm Alava Alliance Inc.; John Louie Pabico, a processor of Phil-Hohan International Corp.; and Cherry Springael, a freelance processor and authorized representative of Alava Alliance.
“These persons have been banned from doing business with the SBMA Seaport, and the companies they represented have been placed on indefinite suspension pending the final results of investigation by the Bureau of Customs,” Eisma added.
She added that the BOC, which received custody of the smuggled items from the SBMA, will also file appropriate criminal charges against the brokers for violation of the Customs and Tariff Act, as well as Republic Act 7227, or the Bases Conversion and Development Act.
“Let this serve as a warning that Subic authorities won’t tolerate illegal activities in the Freeport, and we will apply the full measure of the law in cases like this,” Eisma added.
The SBMA earlier said its law enforcement operatives seized a total of 1,321 boxes of liquor from a closed van that was about to leave the Freeport on Dec. 24, and from a 40-footer container van parked at the Subic Seaport Terminal on Dec. 28.
The seized contraband included 54 bottles of Remy Martin Louis XIII, which sells as much as P170,000 per bottle, and eight boxes of Remy Martin Centaure De Diamant, which fetches P60,000 per bottle.
The SBMA police began the operation on Christmas Eve after a tipster informed them that a closed van and a Nissan Patrol SUV would attempt to smuggle contraband from the Freeport.
Subsequently, SBMA-LED operatives posted along the Argonaut Highway leading to Subic’s sea ports monitored the vehicles and tailed them to the 14th Street Gate where they were stopped by sentries.
The Fuso van, bearing File No. 036404 of BCR Trucking, was found to contain 275 boxes of Remy Martin Cognac Champagne, 448 boxes of Martini, 66 boxes of Remy Martin XO, 17 boxes of Remy Martin Champagne, 8 boxes of Remy Martin Louis XIII, 8 boxes of Remy Martin Centaure De Diamant, 7 boxes of Remy Martin Club, and 7 boxes of Remy Martin.
The driver, identified as 41-year-old Julio Flores, as well as the helper, 46-year-old Marvin Arcega, failed to present necessary documents when accosted by the police, the SBMA-LED said in a report.
Under investigation, Flores reported that he picked up the merchandise from the Subic Seaport Terminal Inc. at the Boton Pier here on instruction of a certain “Ed” who rented his truck for the pickup.
Flores added that a certain “Cherry” assured him the goods were ready for exit at Subic’s Tipo gate even without any document because two other trucks with similar load were able to exit so.
With this information, SBMA operatives conducted a follow-up operation on Thursday that led them to a white Isuzu Giga cab with the markings “Sinfa Logistics Inc.” that was parked at the SSTI’s Boton Pier facility.
The 40-footer container yielded 333 boxes of Remy Martin, 196 boxes of Remy Martin XO, 1 box of Remy Martin Club, 1 box of Martini, 2 boxes of Remy Martin, and 10 boxes of Remy Martin Louis XIII.
Eisma said the SBMA police conducted an inventory of the smuggled items in the presence of representatives from the Bureau of Customs, the SBMA Seaport Department and members of the media before turning over the confiscated items and the vehicles containing them to the Bureau of Customs in the Port of Subic.