MANILA – Customs authorities discovered PHP153 million worth of smuggled fresh red and white onions loaded in seven containers at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) reported on Thursday that the smuggled produce was uncovered after a thorough examination of the containers by personnel from the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS)-MICP on Tuesday.
The red onions were loaded in five containers while the white onions were loaded in two containers, with each container having an estimated value of PHP21.9 million.
The shipments were all consigned to Seaster Consumer Goods Trading and were originally declared to contain fishballs.
CIIS-MICP chief Alvin Enciso recommended the issuance of a Warrant of Seizure and Detention (WSD) as the consignee is expected to face criminal charges.
The shipments arrived on Nov. 16, 2022, from China. A request for the verification of all containers was made on Nov. 18, 2022.
Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz said the ongoing intensified operation against agricultural smuggling in line with the order of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., as well as an assurance to the public that the BOC is on top of the situation.
“We are fully aware of the woes of our kababayans because of the prices of goods, particularly fresh onions. We are taking extra steps to make sure these perpetrators are brought to justice and free our markets from illegally sourced and imported products that could further impact the agricultural sector,” he added.
Meanwhile, CIIS director Jeoffrey Tacio noted that the spot-examination of the containers becomes possible because of the information they received that they contain agricultural products and misdeclared and undeclared items.
“Again, it is only through the proper collaboration and coordination with different government agencies that our team was able to operate successfully. This is what partnership can do — catch multimillions worth of smuggled items these players are bringing into our markets,” he said. (PNA)