UNSCRUPULOUS importers of agricultural products are now sourcing their goods from non-traditional sources to avoid suspicion from authorities, the Bureau of Custom (BoC) said.
This surfaced after alert operatives of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) intercepted the entry at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) of 11 40-footer container vans of red onions from India worth at least P15 million.
The discovery prompted Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon on Friday to raise the alarm on imports of farm products.
“It is my first time to hear of onions imported from India since I took office in July 2017,” Faeldon said.
“I have directed the officers of 17 ports and sub-ports to give due attention to importation of agricultural products and closely verify, authenticate, and double check its documents and required permits so that BOC and the inter-agency will be able to protect the interest and welfare of Filipino farmers and stop all forms of economic sabotage,” he added.
Records show that commonly-apprehended smuggled onions and other farm yields come from China and other Asian countries.
BOC is a member of the inter-agency committee on anti-agricultural smuggling composed of the National Food Authority, Department of Agriculture, and the Office of the President through the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.
The onion shipments arrived on January 1, 2017 and was found to have no import permit from the DA in violation of t Republic Act No. 10845, otherwise known as the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.
CIIS Director Neil L. Estrella said that the contraband were consigned to Meriban Sales Corporation (MSC) and Malaya Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MMPC).