BOC stops 18 containers with imported onions misdeclared as pizza dough
MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted 18 containers from China containing red and yellow onions that were misdeclared as pizza dough during an operation at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).
Reports from the BOC on Monday stated that their Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS-MICP) chief Chief Alvin Enciso sought the physical examination of the shipments from China, based on a piece of derogatory information they received that the loads are merely covered by pizza dough and fishballs.
BOC and MICP, led by Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio and District Collector Arnoldo Famor, then conducted the inspections and confirmed that the containers had red and yellow onions, which violates the Department of Agriculture (DA) Department Circular No. 04 Series of 2016.
Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Juvymax Uy said that the pizza doughs used to cover up the smuggled red and yellow onions were also not covered by the licenses and permits required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means people behind the shipment also violated Republic Act No. 9711 or the Foods and Drugs Act of 2009.
The BOC said that Famor has already issued Warrants of Seizure and Detention (WSD) against the shipments for violating Section 1400 in relation to Section 117 of the R.A. No. 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).
This is not the first time that smugglers attempted to move onions into the country without securing the required documents: last December, several operations yielded hundreds of tons of onions and other agricultural products, including those at the MICP, which were declared as bread and pastries.
Just this January, BOC also foiled an attempt to smuggle onions by concealing them behind used clothing or ‘ukay-ukay’.
Rubio assured the public that they would continue to remain vigilant and monitor shipments going into the country, adding that they would intensify existing measures to guard against smuggling.
“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,” he said.
The country’s recent smuggling woes have prompted several Congressional investigations. Last January 24, the House of Representatives Committee on ways and means chair and Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda pointed out that the number of smuggled goods in the country remains low, but there has been an alarming trend since 2016.
Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo scolded a DA official last January 25 for not informing the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) about the suspected link between cartels and missing onions. With reports from MJ Soriano, trainee