‘Stolen’ diamonds seized in balikbayan box

Don Kevin Hapal

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‘Stolen’ diamonds seized in balikbayan box
The 22 pieces of allegedly stolen diamonds are found inside a balikbayan box from Malaysia

MANILA, Philippines – At least 22 pieces of allegedly stolen diamonds were seized inside a balikbayan box from Malaysia a few days before Christmas, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said in a statement.

The diamonds were hidden in a plastic resealable pouch inside a wallet that was among the contents of a balikbayan box sent by a certain Arturo Rivera from Kuala Lumpur and consigned to Lajane Basilio of No. 34 Luaka, Purok-1, Bataan.

“It is disheartening to confiscate a Balikabyan Box believing it contains gifts and items for love ones of overseas Filipinos in the Philippines. We could not tolerate Filipinos abroad using these boxes in all forms of smuggling as it violates our laws,” Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said.

Faeldon said that the BOC was able to detect the smuggled diamonds after National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Dante Gierran tipped them off that the cargo was shipped as part of 246 packages in a container van onboard ocean vessel Sima Genesis 0231 that arrived last December 5, 2016 from Port of Klang, West Port, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

BOC said that the package was only valued at P56,000. Based on global prices, however, diamonds are pegged at US$1,400 (Php 70,000) per carat.

The seized diamonds are now under the custody of the Manila International Container Ports (MICP) and the BOC said it is preparing cases to be filed against Rivera and Basilio. – Rappler.com

1 USD = Php 49.65

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Don Kevin Hapal

Don Kevin Hapal is Rappler’s Head of Data and Innovation. He started at Rappler as a digital communications specialist, then went on to lead Rappler’s Balikbayan section for overseas Filipinos. He was introduced to data journalism while writing and researching about social media, disinformation, and propaganda.