Second shipment part of four cargoes seized in Cebu, Manila
Two weeks after they seized a shipment filled with gun parts and chop-chop motorbike parts, Customs personnel confiscated anew another shipment filled with parts of high-powered firearms, accessories and ammunition at the Cebu International Port yesterday.
A 40-foot container van bearing number IRNU 9004994 was opened before local media at the port area at past 2 p.m. yesterday.
BOC District Collector Ronnie Silvestre said the container van was the last of four that arrived in the country in the past few days.
He said the first van, which was misdeclared as “personal effects” and originated from California, arrived in Cebu last Nov. 15.
The consignee identified as a certain “Renato Ramos” of JP Rizal Street, Banilad, Cebu City, had yet to be located.
Customs personnel said they believed the name was fictitious and the seized items were scheduled for auction next month.
Silvestre said one container van arrived in the Manila International Port area in the past two weeks and another just yesterday.
Silvestre said the consignee for the latest Cebu shipment was D’ Golden House Trading Co. in Bacalla compound, Holy Name Street, barangay Mabolo, Cebu City.
The shipment came from Siga, 14567 Lanark Street, Panorama, California.
Like the first misdeclared shipment, Silvestre said the cargo passed through Hong Kong via Port Asia Cargo before it arrived in Cebu last Nov. 24.
He said the broker was a certain Miguel Panis of barangay Babag I, Lapu-Lapu City.
Inside the container van were truck heads and used household goods.
Silvestre said the total value was placed at US $6,500 or P282,412.
He said based on documents, the carrier of the container van was identified as NYK Line from Oakland, California.
The forwarding agent was Calorama Freight Services Inc. of Mandaue City, he added.
Silvestre said they received assistance from the US Department of Homeland Security, which is monitoring the movement of the cargoes from their end.
The shipment was declared as “used disassembled truck head” and “used household goods.”
The van contained a truck head, a griller, office chairs, toys, stuffed toys, gallons of anise oil, garments, gun parts and accessories.
“The truck head was used as a concealment. We had difficulty in unloading the truck head,” Silvestre said.
The truck head was unloaded last Monday morning.
“We requested the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) to bring dogs last Monday when the van was initially opened because we suspected that the van also contained drugs,” Silvestre told Cebu Daily News.
Customs police Andie Catre said the van was initially opened last Monday in the OPASCOR (Oriental Port and Allied Services Corp.) yard.
They called a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team after they saw five wooden boxes and suspected it contained bombs.
The team later confirmed that the wooden boxes contained bullets and not “bombs.”
All four vans that contained gun parts of high-powered firearms were delivered by the same shipper to the country.
“We subsequently made the verification and one van arrived in the Manila International Container Port (MICP) two weeks ago, and one van arrived (in MICP) this (yesterday) morning. Two vans arrived in Cebu, and two vans arrived in Manila,” Silvestre said.
In a previous report, a customs broker “agent” Dodong Arnoco named a certain Rey Tagalogin as the person who shipped the van to the country.
Silvestre said Tagalogin is based in the U.S.
“Immediately, they (U.S. Department of Homeland Security) coordinated with their counterpart in the U.S. and they said that it was the same shipper,” Silvestre told reporters.
The first van was shipped from Oakland, California, passed through Hong Kong and arrived in Cebu last Nov. 3. It was opened for full inspection last Tuesday, Nov. 15.
A Customs inventory recorded 1,080 bullets for an M16 rifle, 997 pieces of .30-caliber lead, 294 empty shells, rifle scopes, and rifle parts like bolt carriers, butt stocks, and Magpul-branded grips and hand rails.
The consignee of the van, a certain “Renato Ramos,” turned out to be a fictitious name. Silvestre said the other van in Manila was released. “We need to verify with the BOC district collector in Manila on why they released the van,” Silvestre told Cebu Daily News.
Silvestre said the U.S. Homeland Security verified the “container” numbers, which helped them trace the second van. Silvestre said the container van was destined to Cebu.
“Based on the initial information, the consignee’s name (D’ Golden House Trading Co.) is existing,” he said.
But he said it’s possible that the company name is also fictitious because the previous consignee, “Renato Ramos,” is a fake name.
He said it’s also possible that the consignee is a “gun enthusiast.”
BOC Police Administrative Officer Boy Reyoso told Cebu Daily News that the customs broker Rafael Rubio who facilitated the shipment of Ramos told him that he was unaware of the contents of the van.
Based on their investigation, Reyoso said the notary public who subscribed the affidavit of Ramos on the seized 40-foot container van from the U.S. didn’t know who the real consignee was.
“There are lots of lawyers who would notarize a document and send it to whoever asked for the papers to be signed,” Reyoso said.
He said they will file charges of smuggling and mis-declaration against Tagaloguin.
Silvestre said they will also consider a request by Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district to sell the seized firearm parts and bullets to the Cebu City police. /By Edison delos Angeles, Rhea Ruth V. Rosell and Fe Marie Dumaboc, Correspondents