Customs confiscates P37-M worth of smuggled garlic from China

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Friday, July 11, 2014

THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) has seized an estimated 125 metric tons (MT) or 125,000 kilograms of smuggled garlic worth over P37 million at the Manila International Container Port (MICP), an official said Friday.

BOC issued a warrant of seizure and detention on five 40-foot refrigerated container vans of garlic that arrived in the country without a Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) Import Clearance or permit from the Department of Agriculture (DA), said Customs Commissioner John Sevilla.

Importing garlic without the proper import permits from the DA is in violation of Presidential Decree 1433, which states that traders who wish to import agricultural products must first secure permits from the Agriculture department.

"While we are well aware that local production of garlic is not enough to meet the demand, we will not condone the illegal entry of products," Sevilla said.

The garlic, shipped by Jining Shuntianli Import & Export Co. Ltd based in Shandong, China, arrived in two separate batches on June 12 this year and was consigned to Mc Jayson International Trading.

Based on derogatory information, alert orders were issued by the Bureau's Enforcement Group. A spot-check was subsequently conducted on both shipments in the presence of representatives from the Plant Quarantine Office and the assigned ESS Officers-On-Case.

Furthermore, the consignee on record, MC Jayson, through its Managing Director Lito Caraecle denied ownership of the said import shipment in a letter to the Bureau dated July 3, 2014.

Another 19 40-foot container vans of garlic have been put on hold by MICP District Collector Elmir Dela Cruz by virtue of Alert Orders.

The containers, which arrived in seven separate shipments from May 29 to June 24 this year have no import entries filed as of June 30.

Two of the shipments have been flagged by the Bureau of Plant Industry because these do not have any SPS Import Clearance.

The seizure of smuggled garlic occurred amid the soaring price of the commodity, which reached as high as P300 to P400 in wet markets and groceries across the country.

President Benigno Aquino III has directed concerned government agencies to look into selling the seized garlic in the local market to help temper high garlic prices. (SDR/Sunnex)

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