• Balikbayan box consignee denies knowledge of diamonds

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    DINALUPIHAN, Bataan: The consignee of the alleged stolen 22 pieces of diamonds believed to be worth millions of pesos that the Bureau of Customs discovered hidden in a balikbayan box has denied knowledge of the contraband, saying she does know the shipper from Malaysia.

    A report by Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said the balikbayan box was sent by Arturo Rivera of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Lajane Basilio of Dinalupihan, Bataan

    Basilio is the maiden name of Lajane Bondoc.

    “I do not know the one who sent me the baggage because it was not for me. It is my older brother’s and it only contains used clothes that he left in Malaysia. My name was only used as the consignee.”

    Bondoc was referring to an older brother who used to work in Malaysia but has stopped working abroad and has settled in Olongapo City.

    The woman said LBC Express, the agent of the shipment, repeatedly called her to claim the luggage and that there were alleged undeclared items in it. The shipment arrived on December 5.

    She said she was only able to go to Manila on December 22 since her husband Noel Bondoc, an overseas Filipino worker, arrived from the United Arab Emirates.

    She said that from what she knows, the baggage contained only used clothes left by her brother in Malaysia.
    ”When it was opened in front of us, there was a wallet with a small plastic sachet with very tiny things in it, smaller than monggo beans,” Bondoc said.

    “Had I known that it would only put me into trouble, I wouldn’t even have gone to claim the baggage. My conscience is clear. I know that I am not doing anything wrong so I went to pick it up,” she said.

    “I was so nervous when I arrived. I was wondering why there were so many people,” she added.

    Bondoc is worried for her young children—aged 15, 13 and 12 years old. “I hope this problem will be resolved. I don’t want my family to be involved. My children will be the subject of gossip in our town. When my husband leaves for abroad again in February, I will be the only one left to look after them. What will happen to them if I am implicated in this case?”

    Faeldon said the entire shipment consigned to Lajane Basilio had a declared valued of only P56,000. Under the law, balibayan boxes of Filipinos overseas valued from P150,000 below are free of customs duties and taxes.
    The commissioner estimated the diamonds to be worth millions of pesos as it reportedly priced at $1,400 per carat.

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