The Bureau of Customs (BoC) Friday presented to the media 5,000 bags of illegally imported red and white onions seized by the Customs Intelligence and investigation Service (CIIS) and Intelligence Division (ID) at the Marcelo cold storage at North Bay, Navotas City.
In a statement, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon placed the amount of seized onions to approximately P3 Million.
"The operators of the Marcelo Cold Storage could not show import documents or proof of payment for the duties and taxes on the imported onions stored in its cold storage. So we had to seize the illegally imported onions to avoid them getting into the local market. This is to protect the interest of the local farmers from the ill effects of agricultural product smuggling, particularly onions,” Biazon said.
The illegally imported products were confiscated by virtue of a letter of authority issued last March 18 together with a warrant and seizure order issued on the same date after the surveillance operations of the Customs operatives on the cold storage facility confirmed the presence of the illegally imported onions.
The Customs official said they are monitoring the importation of agricultural products as local onion raisers are blaming smuggling as a cause of the stagnant growth of the local onion industry.
According to the BoC, onion importation is allowed in the country only during lean production months of onions so that locally produced onions will be absorbed by the local market and to avoid price distortion.
“We are very much concerned on the interest of the local farmers. This is the reason why we maintain a zero tolerance policy for agricultural product smuggling. We will seize all illegally imported products, particularly agricultural, no matter who are the people behind it and no matter where these illegally imported agricultural products are.” Biazon said.
Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Danilo Lim boasted about the enhanced intelligence network of the BOC intelligence group as he promised more aggressive confiscation operations in the months to follow.
“This hot onion seizure today will definitely result on jobs saved for many local onion growers. It is on this light that our operatives are working doubly hard to get smuggled agricultural products like onions, off the local markets.” Lim said.
Lim said the confiscated onions will be destroyed and disposed according to the law and the agency will file appropriate charges against the importers of the 5,000 bags of onions.