MORE than P117 million worth of smuggled agricultural products and drugs were seized by operatives of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) in separate operations at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio on Monday led the inspection and seizure at the MICP of 18 container vans of red and yellow onions worth at least P77 million. They were misdeclared as pizza dough and fishballs.

The Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service Field Office, headed by Alvin Enciso, sought the physical examination of the subject shipments on the basis of derogatory information from China.

Acting on the said report, the BoC-MICP inspected the shipments and confirmed that they contained misdeclared red and yellow onions, among others, in violation of Department of Agriculture (DA) Department Circular 04 Series of 2016.

The pizza dough which were used to conceal the red and yellow onions were not also covered by the requisite license and permit from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), violating Republic Act 9711 or the "Foods and Drugs Act of 2009."

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"The BoC shall continue to maximize its intelligence resources and capabilities and intensify enforcement measures against unscrupulous importers and their cohorts to combat smuggling attempts, especially those involving agricultural goods which are inimical to our local farmers and businesses," Rubio said.

In a related development, members of the bureau's X-Ray Inspection Project (XIP) and intelligence operatives also arrested Sunday night, March 12, Randiamparany Harisoa Sandra of Madagascar for possession of 6 kilos of shabu with an estimated street value of P40.8 million.

NAIA Deputy Collector Lourdes Mangaoang, concurrent XIP chief, on Monday said the illegal drugs were found on the hand-carried luggage of the suspect. Confirmatory test showed that the crystalline substance found was shabu.

The suspect arrived at the NAIA on Sunday night on board Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.