P6.4M in illegal onions from China seized at Davao port

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 May) — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) announced it seized on Thursday eight 40-footer container vans full of onions at the Davao port for lack of an import permit.

Davao Customs Acting District Collector Edmundo Magdaraog said the onions, which came from China, weigh close to 130,000 kilograms with a retail value of about P6.4 million.

“The shipment was consigned to Red Jaguar Merchandise, a Davao-based company, and was seized due to a lack of an import permit from the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), and thus considered illegal,” said Magdaraog in a statement.

He said records show that previous importations by Red Jaguar Merchandise were covered by valid phyto-sanitary certifications from the countries of origin and had plant quarantine clearances from the BPI.

“This is their first time to ship without necessary clearance,” Magdaraog said, adding they had already referred the case to their legal team for necessary action.

According to Ramon Miloria, Agriculture Plant Quarantine Service Officer, said they disallow importation of onions because there is currently an abundant supply of locally produced onions.

He added the Department of Agriculture is trying to protect the welfare of local onion growers.

“If we allow importation of onions, our local farmers will suffer because of unfair competition in terms of prices,” he said.

With the lack of phyto-sanitary certifications from the country of origin, Miloria said, the possibility of the onions carrying diseases harmful to both humans and local crops is very high.

BOC Commissioner Lito Alvarez commended Magdaraog and his staff for standing by their commitment to make smuggling unprofitable.

The BOC will be turning over the seized onions to its committee on disposal for burial.

Last February, the BOC seized two alleged “misdeclared” luxury cars at the Sasa Port container yard here.

A full examination of three container vans shipped from Japan led to the seizure of a Toyota Tundra and a Hummer (H2).

Customs officials said the three vans were declared as containing used furniture but one was discovered to have held the luxury cars. (Rico Biliran/MindaNews)