MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — The Bureau of Customs has relieved six of its officials amid the investigation on a suspected sugar smuggling in the Port of Subic in Zambales, Malacañang announced Wednesday.
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the officials have been "transferred" to the office of acting Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz pending the results of the probe.
Those sacked from the BOC-Port of Subic include the following.
- District collector
- Deputy collector for assessment
- Deputy collector for operations
- Chief, assessment division
- Enforcement security service district commander
- The port's CIIS supervisor
Ruiz said he would not comment on the matter until the probe is completed.
"The recall of officials from the Bureau of Customs-Port of Subic is standard procedure while an investigation is being conducted," he said in a statement.
The development came nearly a week after the BOC seized some 7,000 metric tons of sugar at the Subic Port, in line with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s directive to curb the illegal importation and hoarding of the commodity.
The shipment, which came from Thailand, involved 140,000 bags of white refined sugar with total tax payment valued at P45.6 million. Information from authorities indicated that its import permit was "recycled" and already used for an earlier shipment.
Cruz-Angeles said officials caught conniving with possible sugar hoarders or smugglers may face administrative cases, including dismissal from office, "without prejudice to criminal charges."
"Gusto kong i-emphasize dito na if there is sufficient evidence, kunwari nakikiita natin na may bashean para sa imbestigasyon, iimbestigahan sila," Cruz-Angeles said during a Palace briefing.
(I want to emphasize that if there is sufficient evidence or there is basis for the investigation, then we will launch the investigation.)
"Kapagka sufficient na yung ebidensya, reasonable na yung amount ng ebidensya, then subject to administrative proceedings na sila," she added.
(Once the evidence is sufficient and the pieces of evidence are enough, then they are subject to administrative proceedings.)
Malacañang earlier said it was looking into the possibility of an "artificial" sugar shortage in the country given recent findings in warehouse inspections.
The Bureau of Customs last week found some 44,000 sacks of suspected smuggled sugar with an estimated value of P220 million in warehouses in Pampanga and Bulacan.
The inspections were carried out following complaints on high prices of the commodity.
So far, inspections have been conducted in sugar warehouses located in the following areas, according to the Palace:
- Deparo, Caloocan City
- Balut in Tondo
- San Nicolas in Manila
- Rosales, Pangasinan
- San Fernando, Pampanga
- Ibaan, Batangas
Video from PTV