The Bureau of Customs (BOC) confiscated more than P20 million worth of carrots and onions at the Port of Subic in its continuing crackdown against smuggled agricultural products.
BOC Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz said the seized agricultural products came from China and were misdeclared as other products, suggesting that the items were part of smuggling activities.
Ruzi immediately ordered a thorough investigation in coordination with the Department of Agriculture (DA), where the BOC and DA inspected shipments and found the smuggled goods
Port of Subic District Collector Maritess Martin issued Alert Orders against the shipments of Veneta Consumer Goods Trading and Lalavy Aggregates Trading.
The examination revealed that the shipment of Veneta Consumer Goods Trading were declared as assorted foodstuffs but contained frozen carrots.
The other shipments consigned to Lalavy Aggregates Trading, declared as frozen lobster balls and crabsticks, were found to contain fresh red and white onions.
The operation came amid the continuous rise in the price of onions and other agriculture products.
Last year, local farmers were forced to throw away thousands of pesos worth of carrots, tomatoes and other agricultural products due to the abundant supply of imported products.
Earlier, the BOC and the Department of Agriculture (DA) said they have foiled attempts to smuggle into the country onions estimated at P30 million.
In a statement, the DA said some 100,000 kilos of yellow onions declared as bread pastries were discovered on Nov. 29 as the government continues to look into the perceived shortage of onions in the country.
The DA monitoring has established that the price of red onions has peaked to P300 a kilo.
Nevertheless, the DA said supply of the onions appeared sufficient.
Import documents indicated that the shipment “did not undergo any food safety regulations,” the DA said.
“Smuggled agriculture products pose danger to the local agri-fisheries sector because “cargoes may be carriers of transboundary diseases,” Agriculture Assistant Secretary James Layug said.
Authorities from the agriculture department will recommend the filing of charges to the BOC.
The DA however has yet to decide on whether or not to import red and white onions, pending the recommendation of the Bureau of Plant Industry.
Meanwhile, over a thousand bags of white onion were seized by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Bureau of Customs, and Department of Agriculture from a warehouse in Tondo, Manila on Friday evening.
Authorities raided the storage facility on Sto. Cristo Street past 7 p.m.
According to BPI Project assistant and team leader Melvin Banagbanag, they had been monitoring the unit for a month.
“Iwasan natin bumili ng white onion kasi wala ito phytosanitary permit. Bawal na po bumili,” he said.
“Bago pumasok ng Pilipinas, lahat ng importer kailangan kumuha ng phytosanitary permit at saka importation permit. ‘Pag wala, automatic smuggled na po iyon.”
Over two tons of white onions were also seized in Zamboanga City
This developed as farmers urged the government to use local red onions first before importing white onions
Banagbanag warned that while it is tempting to buy white onions since they are cheaper, consuming the product could be a potential health risk.