The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has issued a stern warning to smugglers of agricultural products after learning that unscrupulous traders have recently added India to their lists of sources of red onions and other farm products.
Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon said the renewed vigilance on imported farm products was triggered by the bust of a P15-million worth of smuggled fresh red onions contained in 11 vans recently shipped from India through to the Manila International Container Port (MICP).
“This is the first time since I assumed my post in July that I heard of onions being imported from India,” Faeldon said.
BOC records showed that onions were often smuggled into the country from China and other Asian countries.
Faeldon stressed the BOC’s fight against the smuggling of agricultural products as a priority between the bureau and the Department of Agriculture through its agency’s point person, Federico E. Laciste, Jr., with full support of Secretary Leoncio B. Evasco, Jr. of the Office of the President who is the chair of the inter-agency committee on anti-agricultural smuggling.
“I have directed the officers of 17 ports and sub-ports to give due attention to the importation of agricultural products and closely verify, authenticate, and double check its documents and required permits so the BOC and the inter-agency will be able to protect the interest and welfare of Filipino farmers and stop all forms of economic sabotage,” the BOC chief said.
The BOC is a member of the inter-agency committee on anti-agricultural smuggling composed of the National Food Authority, DA, and the Office of the President through the Office of the Cabinet Secretary headed by Evasco.
Faeldon noted that the seizure of the 11 containers was in compliance with the memorandum order of DA Assistant Secretary FedericoLaciste dated December 24, 2016 which said that the filing of SPS permit validation for agricultural products was allowed up to December 31, 2016 only.
The onion shipments arrived on January 1, , thus its previous import permit elapsed. effectively violating the provisions of Republic Act 10845, otherwise known as the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.
Director Neil Estrella of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), citing a report from MICP-CIIS Officer-In-Charge Teodoro Sagaral, said the onion imports have two consignees, namely Mheriban Sales Corporation (MSC) in Binondo, Manila and Malaya Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MMPC) in Candaba, Pampanga.
Of the 11 containers, eight were consigned to MSC and three in the name of MMPC, he also said. #