P3M 'hot' onions seized in Navotas
(The Philippine Star) - March 22, 2013 - 1:05pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Customs has seized some P3-million worth of illegally imported red and white onions  at a cold storage in Navotas City.

In a statement, the BOC said Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon and Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Danilo Lim led other Customs officials in inspecting and presenting to media 5,000 bags of these onions   seized  earlier by Customs  Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) and Intelligence Division  (ID) operatives at the Marcelo Cold Storage  at North Bay, Navotas City.

According to Biazon the hot onions were seized by virtue of a Letter of Authority he issued on March 18, 2013 and a Warrant and Seizure Order issued on the same date after the surveillance operations of the Customs operatives on the Navotas cold storage confirmed the presence of the hot onions.

“The operators of the Marcelo Cold Storage could not show import documents or proof of payment for the duties and taxes on the imported onions stored in its cold storage. So we had to seize the illegally imported onions to avoid its getting into the local market.” Biazon said.

The local onion raisers are partly blaming smuggling as for the local onion industry’s losses.

Biazon  added that the BOC is closely monitoring the Importations of agricultural products, whether within or outside BOC premises to ensure that only legally imported products like onions are able to get to the local markets. Onion importation is regulated by the Department of Agriculture and is allowed only during lean production months of onions in the Philippines to ensure the absorption of locally produced onions by the local market and to avoid price distortion as well

“We are very much concerned on the interest of the local farmers. This is the reason why we maintain a zero tolerance policy for agricultural products smuggling. We will seize all illegally imported products, particularly agricultural, no matter who are the people behind it and no matter where these illegally imported agricultural products are.” Biazon said.

Lim expressed confidence on his unit’s anti-smuggling initiatives saying that the enhanced intelligence network of the BOC Intelligence group (IG) will result in more seizures to follow.

“This hot onion seizure today will definitely result on jobs saved for many local onion growers. It is on this light that our operatives are working doubly hard to get smuggled agricultural products like onions, off the local markets.” Lim said.

Lim said the onions will eventually be destroyed and disposed in accordance with the law. He added that the BOC will still pursue legal action to those involved in bringing the 5,000 bags of onion into the country without the required import permit from the DA.

BIAZON BUREAU OF CUSTOMS CUSTOMS COMMISSIONER RUFFY BIAZON AND DEPUTY COMMISSIONER DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE INTELLIGENCE AND INVESTIGATION SERVICE INTELLIGENCE DIVISION LOCAL MARCELO COLD STORAGE ONIONS
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