Pet food importer faces smuggling case

Posted at 06/30/11 6:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Customs (BOC) filed smuggling charges against the owner of a company that allegedly grossly undervalued its P474.5-million pet food importations by 80% in the last 15 months.

Charged before the Department of Justice (DOJ) Thursday was one Leoby Castillo Leonidas, owner of Honey Drops Marketing, and customs broker Isabelita Galera for declaring that their pet food shipments had a per kilo value of only $.23 or P10.12, which the BOC claims was way below the $1.11(P48.84) to $1.21(P53.24) per kilo value declared by other importers of exactly the same products.

The BOC said Honey Drops "made it appear that its 139 import entries filed between March 2010 and June 2011 had a combined dutiable value of only P92.6million in duties and P12.2 million in value-added (VAT) taxes."

The BOC's Run After The Smugglers (RATS) team said the real dutiable value of Honey Drops' various importations was P474.5 million, for which it should have paid P23.5 million in duties and P59 million in VAT.

Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez said this 80% undervaluation "smacks of arrogance that offends in a special way because of (an) implied assumption of impunity and untouchability."

"For scheming to save P66.3 million, Honey Drops now stands to lose the equivalent of the P474.5 million it had spent on its imported pet foods products," Alvarez said.

The customs chief ordered a post-entry audit on all previous importations made by Honey Drops as well as an investigation into customs personnel who may have colluded with the company.