MANILA – About PHP10-million worth of smuggled red onions hidden in shipments of ice cream were apprehended by members of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and Manila International Container Port (MICP).
The port’s Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) headed the operations that led to the seizure two shipments on June 28.
The shipments allegedly consigned to E. Austero Merchandising originated from China and were declared to contain ice cream sticks.
Alvin Enciso, chief of CIIS-MICP, said the shipments have undergone 100 percent physical examination by the examiners of Section 1 of MICP’s Formal Entry Division and were witnessed by MICP District Collector Romeo Allan Rosales and members of CIIS, Enforcement and Security Service (ESS).
The examination revealed the red onions were concealed in ice cream containers declared as 204 cartons of Aice chocolate crispy vanilla and milk-coated with two layers of chocolate, 167 cartons of Aice chocolate cup, 213 cartons of Aice chocolate-iced milk with chocolate milk-flavored ice cream stick with chocolate, and other varieties.
Enciso said the bureau issued a Warrant of Seizure and Detention (WSD) against the shipment in violation of Republic Act 10863, also known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
Aside from misdeclaration, Enciso said the consignee also has no required permits from the Bureau of Plants and Industry (BPI) to bring such food items into the country.
Rosales said they are committed to preventing the entry of illegal agricultural goods, especially those that are meant for human consumption and do not have the necessary permits to ensure the safety of such items.
For his part, Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero also wanted to prioritize food security in the country by stopping the importation of illegal food items, aside from the bureau’s anti-smuggling drive.
“When you are trying to stop illegal smuggling, there is no small or big item. Everything that enters our ports — from cars, medicines to onions — must follow the proper procedure. You cannot stop smuggling if you are going to exempt what others might think are simple, harmless items,” he said.
“If you look at them differently, this problem will never end. In my eyes, they are all the same. What’s illegal is illegal,” Guererro added. (PNA)