Bureau of Customs (BOC) agents assigned at the Port of Cagayan de Oro have intercepted shipments of red and white onions worth P18 million, a first of such achievement under the leadership of newly installed Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz.
The banned shipments from China, consigned to Primex Export and Import Producer, were found to contain red and white onions contrary to its declaration of soft tortilla wrap stated in its importation manifest.
Prior to the seizure, the shipments underwent examination at the Mindanao International Container Terminal Services Inc. (MICTSI) yard in the presence of the Customs district collector, sub-port collector, and agents of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), the Enforcement and Security Service, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc., and MICTSI.
Commissioner Ruiz, whose top priority programs included curbing smuggling, said the swift implementation of the operation stopped the entry of the smuggled agricultural goods into the country.
“We have a legacy to continue here, one that was started by the previous administration. We know that we have been a target of agricultural smuggling for years, and I personally believe it is high-time we put more resources into these efforts,” said Ruiz.
“We have a good foundation in the bureau because for the past six years, there was a strong leadership at the helm, who pushed for the necessary changes that transformed our processes and made us more efficient in our jobs,” he added.
CIIS director Jeoffrey Tacio said that their Field Station at CDO received “derogatory information” through a Field Information Report (FIRE) from the Intelligence Division about the shipment of possibly misdeclared agricultural products.
“In such instances, the standing order is for us to act immediately by filing the necessary documents and receiving the go-signal. It is imperative that we act swiftly on smuggling cases to prevent these incidents from repeatedly happening in our own ports,” he said.
Upon receiving the information, the field station chief at the CDO port requested for the issuance of a Pre-Lodgement Control Order (PLCO) against the shipments from the office of CDO district collector Elvira Cruz.
A warrant of seizure and detention (WSD) was recommended against the shipment, while Primex Export and Import Producer would face legal charges in relation to the possible violation of Section 1400 (misdeclaration of goods) and Section 117 (regulated importation) of Republic Act 10863, or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) claimed recently that agricultural smuggling remains lucrative because none of the smugglers got penalized.