As the price of imported garlic skyrockets on the Philippine market, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized an estimated 100 metric tons (MT) or 100,000 kilograms of smuggled garlic from Hong Kong with a rough value of P30 million at the Port of Batangas on Friday.
BOC information officer Charo Logarta said the smuggled garlic that arrived in two separate shipments on June 1 and 12, 2014 will be destroyed.
Earlier, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture (DA) suggested that the garlic be auctioned to the public to fill-up the short supply in the market, however, authorities and farmers present during the examination insist they be destroyed.
Both Batangas 2nd district Representative Raneo Abu and AGAP partylist Representative Nicanor Briones concurred.
Also present during the inspection were Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste, Batangas City Mayor Eddie Dimacuha and committee on ways and means secretary Mauricio Pulhin.
Logarta added that the illegal shipment was packed in 10-kilogram bags and came in four 40-foot container vans from Hongkong on the MV MCC Sandiwa and the MV Rubena Schulte.
The BOC also said the smuggled garlic was declared as “cocoa beans to be used as raw material for chocolate” upon the spot-checking of the customs officials.
Since it was misdeclared, the shipment had no phytosanitary clearance required by the DA for agricultural products.
“The shipments were subjected to Alert Orders by the BOC’s Intelligence Group based on derogatory information. Upon the conduct of spot-checking, it was found out that the contents thereof was garlic instead of chocolate raw materials as declared in the Bill of Lading,” the bureau said.
The shipment was consigned to a certain Good Earth Merchandising, based in Brgy. Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City; and was brokered by an Antonio Enriquez, with address at Tuktukan, Gui–guinto, Bulacan.
Verification of the existence of the consignee showed that it was non-existent, as per a certification dated June 11, 2014 issued by a barangay chairwoman.
The four container vans with the seized garlic were subjected to close examination at the Port of Batangas. These will then undergo forfeiture proceedings in favor of the government.
The DA monitored that the price of garlic has gone up to more than P300 per kilo for the imported variety, and P180 per kilo for the local variety.
DA Secretary Proceso Alcala further ordered an investigation into the price hike of the condiment, which in the first quarter of 2014 alone jumped by 213 percent or more than thrice the usual P60.00 to P90.00 per kilo.
Alcala reported that the price increase of garlic was due to the lower supply of imported garlic and a higher demand from traders.