The Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Customs successfully foiled the entry of some P34 million worth of smuggled onions.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, who joined the raiding team along with Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña, noted that the smuggled onions could have affected the livelihood of thousands of onion farmers whose produce could suffer if the smuggled product flooded the market.
Piñol said apples were being used as cover for the smuggled onion. Apples come into the country without tariff while onions are taxed 35 percent. Smuggling of onions is initially hard to detect by the x-ray machine because they have the same shape as apples.
Smugglers place the apples in the front row of container vans to conceal the smuggled onions, but the strong onion odor gave away.
Each container van contained onions estimated at P2 million, or P34 million for all 17 vans.
The department plans to destroy all seized onions because they may carry diseases dangerous to local farms.