MANILA (INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Bureau of Customs (BOC) said it had found 22 stolen diamonds when it opened a "balikbayan" (gift) box sent from Malaysia.
In a press statement on Monday (Dec 26), BOC commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said the diamonds were contained in a plastic re-sealable pouch that was neatly hidden in a wallet inside the box sent by one Arturo R. Rivera from Kuala Lumpur.
The package was consigned to one Lajane Basilio of Purok 1, Luakan, Bataan.
"It is disheartening to confiscate a balikbayan box believing it contains gifts and other items for the loved ones of overseas Filipinos.
"However, we cannot tolerate Filipinos abroad who use these boxes for smuggling as it violates our laws," Mr Faeldon said.
The BOC found the diamonds based on information relayed by National Bureau of Investigation director Dante Gierran, according to Mr Faeldon.
The BOC statement did not provide other details, like the diamond's real owner and how the diamonds were stolen.
Citing Mr Gierran's information, the BOC chief said the box arrived in the country on Dec 5. It was transported in a freight container holding 245 other packages onboard the vessel Sima Genesis 0231 from Port Klang's Westport.
Based on BOC records, the designated agents of the shipment were LBC Express with a warehouse located at Radial Road 10, Vitas, Tondo, Manila; and RV Estrella Customs Brokerage which holds office at Downtown Centre Building, Quintin Paredes Street, Binondo, Manila.
The BOC has yet to determine the value of the 22 diamonds, which were placed in the custody of Manila International Container Port District collector Philip Maronilla.
The bureau said charges were being prepared against Rivera and Basilio.