BOC official wants seized rhino horns kept in vault
- Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - September 9, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – A Bureau of Customs (BOC) official recommended yesterday that the P72-million worth of rhinoceros horns seized earlier at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) be kept in a vault to prevent them from being stolen.

Fernandino Tuason, BOC Intelligence and Investigation director, said he suggested to Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon that the six horns, which weigh a total of 13 kilos, be kept either in the Office of the Commissioner or the office of the Enforcement and Security Service, where there is a vault used to keep confiscated guns.

“These rhino horns are very valuable yet they are small so they can easily be carried off or stolen,” he said.

African rhinoceros are considered endangered. The current price per gram of rhinoceros horn in Asia is $133.

Tuason said that to his knowledge, the horns are still with the MICP since it still has to issue a warrant of seizure and detention on the shipment, which reportedly came from Mozambique.

The horns were discovered on Aug. 25 hidden among 300 sacks of cashew nuts in a 20-foot shipping container. The shipper was identified as Chistevas Import & Export in Maputo City, Mozambique.

Tuason believes the horns were intended for the local market since there is already a sizable population of Chinese, Koreans and other Asians living in the country who might be interested in purchasing powdered rhinoceros horn, which is used in traditional medicine that can reportedly cure leukemia, cancer and malaria.

The items were confiscated for violating provisions of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (TCCP) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Tuason said they are still conducting a follow-up investigation on the identities of the consignee and the customs broker.

A BUREAU OF CUSTOMS CHISTEVAS IMPORT CUSTOMS COMMISSIONER RUFINO BIAZON ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WILD FAUNA AND FLORA ENFORCEMENT AND SECURITY SERVICE FERNANDINO TUASON INTELLIGENCE AND INVESTIGATION INTERNATIONAL TRADE MANILA INTERNATIONAL CONTAINER PORT MAPUTO CITY TUASON
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