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BOC confiscates more than P139-M worth of agri products

December 31, 2022 People's Tonight 282 views

FRESH from its operation that yielded more than P171 million worth of smuggled agricultural products from a Muntinlupa City-based firm last week, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) again seized P139,769,500 worth of undeclared agricultural products from the same company during examinations held from December 27 to 29, 2022.

The containers, which arrived from China between November 27, 2022 and December 3, 2022 at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), were consigned to a firm located at B4 L7 Mariategui HMOA, Alabang, Muntinlupa.

The shipments were declared to contain udon noodles and frozen dim sum balls, but the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service at MICP (CIIS-MICP) found them to have undeclared fresh red and white onions, frozen ox tripe, frozen barbecue, and frozen craw fish.

Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz said he was livid upon finding out that the same company almost managed to bring in hundreds of millions worth of smuggled agricultural products into the country in less than two months.

“Although I am proud of our men and what they were able to accomplish these past weeks, I am appalled at the gall of these groups. We have reports coming in that a kilo of red onions sells for P720 in the markets. Bringing a hot commodity like onions into our borders without going through the proper procedures is an affront to our farmers, the people who make sure we have enough supply of it,” he stressed.

He furthered that the entry of smuggled agricultural products into the local markets affects the agricultural sector, the workers of which fall under the country’s poorest of the poor.

Customs Deputy Commissioner retired Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy seconded the commissioner’s concerns about the country’s agricultural sector and the general public, especially during the holiday season.

“As Filipinos, we love to gather around the table during the holidays and share whatever food we have, but it seems that many of our kababayans won’t even get to cook their favorite spaghetti recipe because of the high cost of onions and other food products. For the bureau, just the mere act of trying to cross our borders with undeclared items is an insult,” he said. However, he also underscored the hard work that led to the bureau’s successful operations even during the merriest time of the year.

“I can’t praise our people enough. I know how hard they’ve been working to get to the bottom of how this company operates. And to do it during the holidays, that takes a special kind of commitment and dedication,” Uy added. This recent operation comes after the bureau reported seizing P171,350,000 worth of smuggled agricultural products, including fresh red and white onions, from containers that arrived from November 12, 2022 to December 3, 2022 consigned to the same company. The estimated total value of undeclared agricultural products that the firm meant to smuggle into the country from November to December 2022 amounted to P327,427,500.

The seizure of smuggled agricultural products was made in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture (DA) because their importation requires clearance from the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), which falls under the ambit of DA.

The shipment that arrived on November 25, 2022 and examined on December 28, 2022 were initially declared to contain frozen lobster, frozen prawn balls, and frozen crab stick but was later found to also have undeclared frozen ox tripe worth P15,500,000.

Containers that arrived on November 27, 2022 and examined from December 27 to 29, 2022 were declared to have udon noodles, frozen lobster, frozen prawn balls, and frozen crab sticks. Upon examination, these containers had undeclared fresh red onions, frozen barbecue, and frozen craw fish that amounted to P46,750,000.

Four shipments on December 3, 2022 and examined from December 27 to 29, 2022 were declared to contain only udon noodles, but examiners instead found undeclared fresh red and white onions amounting to an estimated total value of P77,519,500.