A MANILA-BASED fish importer who misdeclared and diverted some P1.9-million worth of roundscad or “galunggong” from China has been charged with an administrative case.
Charged with violation of Section 105 of the amended Republic Act 8850 (Fisheries Code as amended by RA 10654, and Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Fisheries Administrative Order No. 195 before the BFAR’s Adjudication Committee was the Hightower Inc.
The said administrative order states the rules and regulations governing importation of fresh, chilled, frozen fish and fishery and aquatic products.
Dr. Nilo Katada, chied of the DA-BFAR Fisheries Inspection and Quarantine Division, siad they filed the case against the company after receiving reports from the
Bureau of Custom (BOC) of an alleged diversion of two refrigerated container vans tracked through the Global Positioning System (GPS) devices attached to the containers.
Based on the BOC report, the containers were allegedly diverted to the cold storage warehouse (CSW) of Glacier Megafridges, Inc., in Paranaque City. Acting on the report, the DA-BFAR dispatched fish inspection officers to conduct an investigation, along with BOC fieldmen, on Dec. 3, 2020.
They found out that the two containers arrived on Nov. 28, 2020, at Glacier CSW. The Hightower Inc. imported the said fish items under Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance (SPSIC) No. ICDA BFAR 20106932, specifically for “frozen squid whole,” intended for institutional buyers, with final destination at its storage and trading center, in Quiapo, Manila.
Katada said the joint DA-BFAR and BOC investigation showed that two containers were instead diverted to another cold storage facility, at Amber Business Park in Paranaque, owned by a certain Lanie Duran of Glacier Megafridges Inc.
DA-BFAR and BOC composite team also found that the imported commodities actually consisted of 1,393 boxes of roundscad (male), 325 boxes of roundscad (female), and 215 boxes of squid.
The BOC immediately issued Warrant Seizure and Detention (WSD) to the subject commodity and immediately filed appropriate charges for violation of Customs Law.
The warehouse staff of Glacier Megafridges initially told DA-BFAR and BOC investigators that the cargoes were owned by Duran, but subsequent investigations showed that Hightower was the real consignee.
If found guilty in the administrative case, Hightower will be penalized with a fine amounting to five times the value of the species, or P300,000 to P500,000, whichever is higher, and forfeiture of fishery/aquatic product for proper disposition.
Aside from administrative case, all SPSIC applications of Hightower have been withheld, while the case is pending, and its accreditation may be revoked permanently, while the company and its officers may be blacklisted perpetually from engaging in all fishery-related business.
With their findings, Katada has recommended the imposition of the maximum administrative penalties against Hightower.
Katada also recommended the immediate revocation of Hightower’s accreditation and license to import.
Meanwhile, DA Secretary William Dar commended the men and women of the BOC led by Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, and the DA-BFAR, led by Director Eduardo Gongona, for their continued vigilance and dedication to run after erring importers and traders.
“Illegal importers, smugglers and unscrupulous traders deprive us not only of much-needed tax revenues, but also of reasonably-priced farm and fishery products for the benefit of consumers,” Dar said.
“We look forward to continued strong partnerships with the BOC, other concerned government agencies and the private sector in our relentless campaign against erring traders and smugglers,” he added.
Upon conviction by a court of law, the offender shall be punished with eight years of imprisonment and a fine of twice the administrative fine, forfeiture and/or destruction of the species.Publication Source : People's Tonight