New meat smuggling modus operandi bared

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A trading company has been using the names of meat processors to smuggle meat products into the country, according to the Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI).

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PAMPI President Felix O. Tiukinhoy Jr. revealed the new modus operandi in a letter to Customs Commissioner Albert D. Lina dated March 21, 2016.

Tiukinhoy, who is also the President of Virginia Foods Inc., said his group discovered that a trading company called AB Foods LLC has been using the names of at least three PAMPI member-companies to import pork bellies and frozen boneless beef without the knowledge of the three companies.

“May I respectfully request your office to unmask and prosecute the meat smugglers, with particular focus on the customs broker or brokers who facilitated or filed the false import entries with the Bureau of Customs,” Tiukinhoy said in his letter to Lina.

Tiukinhoy said his group discovered the modus operandi when the Bureau of Customs published two Customs Watch bulletins in newspapers on March 9 and March 16.

“In the March 16 issue, Virginia Foods Inc. was listed in import entries as a consignee of 28,000 kilograms of buffalo meat allegedly exported by AB Foods LLC. For the record, we neither know nor deal with AB Foods as exporter-supplier. Thus, import documents covering such shipment are spurious,” Tiukinhoy said.

The PAMPI official explained that buffalo meat from India is a restricted and regulated commodity.

“Indian exporters of buffalo meat are accredited by the Department of Agriculture and AB Foods is not one of them. Therefore, said importation is patently illegal, using falsified SPS [sanitary and phytosanitary]import permits to release the shipment from Customs,” he said.

Another PAMPI member, Sunpride Foods, was also listed as a consignee of buffalo meat trimmings from AB Foods, although it had no dealings with the trader, Tiukinhoy said.

Tiukinhoy said Frabelle Corp., another PAMPI member, also informed him that it was similarly listed as a consignee of pork bellies from AB Foods based on the Customs Watch bulletin published on March 9, 2016. Frabelle also denied it had transactions with the alleged exporter.

“Were it not for the publication of the Customs Watch bulletins, our company and others similarly situated would never have known that our business entities were being used as cover for meat smuggling activities,” Tiukinhoy said.

He said the Bureau of Customs should prosecute meat smugglers in order to clear the name of PAMPI, an organization of meat processing companies that plays a crucial role in the country’s food security.

PAMPI has 30 members, which account for more than P300 billion in annual sales and provide direct and indirect jobs and livelihood to some 300,000 Filipinos.

Edwin Camaya

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