450 tons of Brazil meat face seizure
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Customs officials said they would seize the imported frozen meat that entered this free port last week from Brazil, should the consignee remove the cargo from its containers.
Lawyer Ernelito Aquino, Subic customs district collector, said his office had not issued a transshipment permit for the 75 40-foot containers loaded with up to 450 tons of frozen meat from Brazil.
“For the record, the Port of Subic has not signed or approved a foreign transshipment permit until such time that the consignee’s vessel that would [carry] these containers [out of Philippine territory] has arrived,” Aquino told the Inquirer in a text message on Friday.
The containers were consigned to Goldlink International (Subic) Inc., a registered free port importer, based on customs documents obtained by the Inquirer.
Aquino said Bureau of Customs personnel remained on alert should the consignee transfer the cargo to a fishing boat.
“Customs would seize these containers once stripping and transfer would be conducted,” he said.
The containers, he said, are under the jurisdiction of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) since the cargo was not intended for the domestic market.
The containers, loaded with 408,000 kilograms of frozen cattle, swine meat and offal, arrived at the free port on March 10.
The shipment was declared foreign transshipment cargo from Brazil and bound for Vietnam via the Port of Subic.
Aquino said the customs bureau was alerted about the shipment and the alleged attempt of the consignee to strip down the containers early this week.
Stripping a container (a term for opening the container and removing its cargo) is illegal, Aquino said.
Because the contents are transshipment items, “the bullet seal [of each container] must remain intact,” while the containers await transfer to another ship “that will carry these to their primary destination,” he said.
According to Aquino, the containers are inside the Subic Bay International Terminal here and customs personnel have been deployed to the terminal to monitor these.
“There are also closed-circuit television cameras in the terminal. It would be difficult for the consignee to remove the containers from the terminal,” he said.
Earlier, SBMA Chair Roberto Garcia said “had the containers been immediately transferred to another ship when these arrived in the Subic free port, then there would have been no problem.”
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