'Selective enforcement': Solon slams BOC for picking on PAL personnel

A "selective enforcement" on the law on smuggling.

Onions at a Quezon City supermarket (Ellson Quismorio/ MANILA BULLETIN)

That's how Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Ray Reyes described the Bureau of Customs' (BOC) action against the flight attendants of the Philippine Airlines (PAL) who allegedly tried to sneak in fruits and vegetables on their way back to the country from a Middle East flight.

Among the alleged contraband were onions, which are now commanding prices higher than that of meat in the Philippines.

"The Bureau of Customs' investigation into the alleged smuggling of onions by 10 flight attendants of Philippine Airlines is a clear example of selective enforcement and a failure of the agency to hold powerful individuals and establishments accountable for their actions," Reyes said in a statement Monday, Jan. 16.

"It is a sad state of affairs when mid-level employees of private firms are targeted for punishment while the rich and influential are allowed to evade scrutiny and prosecution," noted the neophyte congressman.

Reyes further said: "This type of discrimination undermines the rule of law and erodes public trust in government institutions."

The BOC earlier said that pursuant to the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), importations of plant products are considered “regulated importations”, which require a prior clearance or permit from the concerned government regulatory agency.