The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has filed criminal charges against importers and customs brokers for the alleged illegal importation of onions with an estimated value of P2.782 million and violation of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) and Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.
BOC on June 29 filed cases before the Department of Justice against Fernando M. Diana, Jr., proprietor of Skyrocket, and his licensed customs broker, Reynaline B. Turrado, for reportedly importing onions unlawfully and misdeclaring them as apples. The onions were valued at P1.9 million.
BOC in a statement said Diana and Turrado violated sections 1401 and 1402 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10863, or the CMTA, in relation to R.A. 10845, otherwise known as Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.
Similarly, criminal cases were filed against the owners of Kasaligan International Marketing Corporation, namely, Emily F. Maslunga and Virgilio Q. Miranda, president and treasurer of Kasaligan, respectively, and their licensed customs broker, Carlos Andrew C. Alindogan. They face charges of unlawfully importing onions valued at P881,765, violating sections 1401 and 1402 of the CMTA.
The cases stemmed from the joint spot checking of six 40-foot reefer containers at Manila International Container Port last April spearheaded by Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, wherein these containers, declared to contain fresh apples, were each found to contain fresh onions weighing 35 metric tons.
Piñol said apples have 0% tariff while onions are imposed with 35%.
Lapeña stressed that large-scale smuggling of agricultural products is considered as economic sabotage, adversely affecting local farmers and producers of agricultural products. He likewise emphasized that BOC will remain steadfast and relentless not only in collecting revenues, but “more importantly continue to curb all sorts of reprehensible smuggling activities.”
The Customs chief added that “more cases will be filed by the Bureau of Customs against importers and brokers involved in the smuggling of onions and other agricultural products.”
“This should serve as a strong warning against unscrupulous individuals. The government is closely monitoring their smuggling activities and the BOC will make sure these smugglers will be prosecuted,” he added.