2nd massive shipment of smuggled onions stirs BOC's suspicions

Published August 2, 2021, 5:53 PM

by Betheena Unite

A second batch of smuggled red onions believed to be a part of an ongoing large-scale agricultural smuggling activity was recently intercepted at the Port of Subic.

DEJA VU–Another shipment of onions worth P45 million–declared as chapati bread–were seized at the Port of Subic. (Photo courtesy of the BOC)

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) said Monday, August 2, that 12 containers of red onions worth P45 million were seized on July 13, just four days after the interception of a P42-million shipment of misdeclared onions on July 9.

This brought the red onion haul from the same importer to P86.250 million.

According to Port of Subic-Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) Chief Verne Enciso, the latest shipment from China was brought into the country using the same manner as the first batch of onions that arrived on July 9.

Declared as “chapati bread”, the shipment was consigned to Duar Te Mira, who was also one of the consignees of the previous onion shipment.

Enciso said that upon the arrival of the first 11 containers of the contraband last July 9, they continued profiling for the possible arrival of a related shipment.

“The modus operandi of smuggling attempts is usually through splitting of cargoes. We monitored the manifests of incoming ships, and identified several containers also consigned to Duar Te Mira,” Enciso explained.

Port of Subic District Collector Maritess Martin, on the other hand, said, “A possible intent could have been to offload here in the north and pass these off as locally- grown produce.”

Martin ordered a follow-up investigation on the case, noting that the consignees were no-shows in claiming their shipment.

“Especially in this time of pandemic, our district ports are on high alert for any smuggling attempts particularly on agricultural products that can flood the market and gravely affect the income of our local farmers. We prevented that with the seizure of these shipments,” Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said.

“The BOC is now weighing options on how best to dispose of the contents of these 23 containers, with the official issuance of warrants of seizure and detention,” he added.