22 pieces of smuggled diamonds seized from balikbayan box
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted some 22 pieces of diamonds which were allegedly stolen and smuggled into the Philippines by a Filipino from Kuala Lumpur.
"It is disheartening to confiscate a Balikbayan Box believing it contains gifts and items for loved ones of overseas Filipinos in the Philippines. However, we could not tolerate, too, Filipinos abroad using these boxes in all forms of smuggling as it violates our laws," Customs Commissioner Nicanor E. Faeldon said in a statement.
According to Faeldon, the diamonds were found in a plastic resealable pouch hidden inside a wallet in a balikbayan box sent by a certain Arturo R. Rivera in Kuala Lumpur and consigned to Lajane Basilio of No. 34 Luakan, Purok-1, Bataan.
Following information bared by Director Dante A. Gierran of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Faeldon said the box was shipped as part of 246 loose packages in a container van on board the ocean vessel Sima Genesis, which arrived from the Port of Klang, West Port, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on December 5.
"The entire shipment was only valued at P56,000, supposedly free of duties and taxes as provided in the provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA)," the BOC said.
The agency, however, said that global prices dictate that a 0.50-carat diamond is currently at $1,400 per carat and that prices per carat increase as they jump up to higher weight categories.
Under Philippine laws, only balikbayan boxes valued at P150,000 or less are considered free of customs duties and taxes.
The diamonds are now in the custody of Manila International Container Port (MICP) District Collector Vincent Philip Maronilla, as legal charges against Rivera and Basilio are being prepared by the BOC legal division. —Jon Viktor Cabuenas/KBK, GMA News