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71 tons of smuggled onions destroyed in Zamboanga

Roel Pareño - The Philippine Star
71 tons of smuggled onions destroyed in Zamboanga
More than 71 tons of smuggled onions are buried in the compound of the Department of Agriculture research center in Zamboanga City yesterday.
Photo courtesy of Vice Mayor Josephine Pareja.

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Authorities destroyed yesterday more than 71 tons of smuggled onions seized in a series of operations in this city last month.

At least 11,934 bags of confiscated onions were buried by personnel of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Bureau of Customs, Philippine Coast Guard and 2nd Zamboanga City Mobile Force Company in the compound of the Department of Agriculture (DA) research center in Purok 6, Sitio San Ramon in Barangay Talisayan.

Vice Mayor Josephine Pareja, who represented the city government, was present to ensure the proper disposition of the smuggled onions.

A backhoe was used to dig a pit where the onions were buried.

Floralie Yeo-Floriano of the National Plant Quarantine Service division of the BPI said the onions have to be disposed due to lack of phytosanitary permit.

“If there is no directive from the central office for donation, it is automatic for destruction or shipping to the country or place of origin... These items have no documents and we cannot risk plant, human and animal health,” Floriano said.

The shipments reportedly originated from India.

“Before entering the country, we have to ensure that the level of pesticide residue is not high, heavy metal leads and other factors to consider that it is safe. Since there are no documents we cannot prove that it is safe,” Floriano said.

Residents near the DA research compound had complained of the pungent odor of the rotting onions.

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