Government agents have seized two container vans loaded with P20 million worth of smuggled onions from China.
The Bureau of Customs examined and impounded the shipments at the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental on Wednesday.
The bureau initiated the operation with the help of the Department of Agriculture, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Customs Region 10 office, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), Enforcement Security Services, and Chamber of Customs Brokers, Inc. after it received information that the shipments contained onions instead of the declared bread and pastries.
The 50,000 kilograms of onions consigned to Asterzenmed Inc. arrived in Cagayan de Oro on December 6.
Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz assured the public that they remain committed to the directive of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“Onions are being sold at higher prices in our local markets. This should not have been a predicament for an agricultural country like us. The more empowered these people feel about smuggling these products, the more our economy will suffer. So, we cannot let that happen because the people will be the most affected,” he said.
CIIS director Jeoffrey Tacio shared that they received intelligence information about the containers that will pass through MCT port while carrying smuggled onions.
“As we’re nearing the end of 2022, I’m glad to see that our agents are still hard at work in stopping these smuggled goods from passing through our borders. Now more than ever, it is so critical to protect our economy from the adverse impact of smuggled agricultural products,” he said.
Upon receiving the joint request by CIIS and ESS on Dec. 9, CDO District Collector Alexandra Lumontad immediately issued a Pre-Lodgement Control Order (PLCO) against the shipment on the same day.
Deputy Commissioner Juvymax Uy acknowledged the team responsible for the operation as he underscored their hard work and dedication they have shown in seeing the operation through despite the challenges.
“As leaders, we want to always be a motivational factor to our people. We want them to see that like them, we are hard at work in exercising our mandate and taking away the power from these groups. But I also like to say that we are always inspired by our team members,” he said.
“They’re the ones who made success a possibility in this agency. And they’re the ones showing every day what it takes to do it,” Uy added.
The bureau’s intensified operations against agricultural smuggling come on the heels of President Marcos’ orders to protect the country’s borders against any form of illegal importation of goods.