Latest Stories


Flawed procedure at Customs


Because of what I believe is a flawed procedure at the Bureau of Customs, the planned raid to confiscate smuggled carrots from China last Dec. 10 failed.

However, because of the measures taken by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Agriculture Senate committee chair Francis Pangilinan, and broadcast stations Channels 2, 5 and 7, the objective of minimizing carrot smuggling was still achieved.

Smuggled carrots

Since Alyansa Agrikultura has 42 member federations and organizations from all agricultural sectors, it gets requests for assistance from different areas of the country.

Last Dec. 6, Alyansa Cordillera director John Kim called to say smuggled carrots from China had flooded the Divisoria market. Benguet Farmers Marketing Cooperative chair Fred Alangdao added details to this report.

Instead of the Benguet farmers getting good prices during the Christmas season, the opposite has happened because of smuggling.

According to a study submitted by a Benguet farmer, the break-even farm gate price for a kilo of carrots is P18. However, if we eliminate costs such as labor, interest, and several other overhead costs, Kim said that the break-even cost is P12.

In better days, the carrot farm gate price is P22, enough to earn a living. But recently, Alangdao reported on nationwide television that the price had dropped to as low as P5 a kilo.

BOC procedure

Under the current BOC procedure, evidence must first be submitted before the agency can take action. So last Dec. 7, an Alyansa Benguet leader purchased smuggled carrots.

Knowing that the BOC would question this action, she asked the quarantine head of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to come with her to witness the purchase.

She then went with the BPI official to submit a box of smuggled carrots with the label “Product of China” to the BOC.

They jointly signed an official statement, attesting that the carrots were bought in Divisoria.

Carrots from China do not have the required phytosanitary clearances.

This means that the products pose a danger to consumer health. In addition, the products may carry foreign pests that may spread to local farms and destroy the livelihood of our farmers.

The BOC wanted to first inspect the stall to see if the complaint was true. This would have been appropriate for complaints from unknown sources, but the complainant in this case included the BPI quarantine head.

We argued that this unnecessary inspection could alert not only the specific establishment but also the whole of Divisoria market that a raid would soon take place.

The night before, a Benguet farmer had seen stacks five feet high of these smuggled carrots in the vicinity of the stall. But when the raiding team arrived, the smuggled products had disappeared.

We had experienced this with the BOC many times before, and were therefore disappointed when Customs officials denied our recommendation to proceed immediately with the raid without possibly alerting the target establishment.

DTI model

The Customs agency should adopt the same procedure I had instituted when I was DTI undersecretary, which is still practiced today.

If the private sector complainant is credible enough, he or she may meet Philippine National Police officials or agents of the National Bureau of Investigation in a place near the target establishment. The complainant must not identify the location of the establishment. Only senior officials of the PNP or NBI are given this information. These raids are mostly successful, since no timbre, or leaked information, reaches the target establishment.

The BOC should adopt this procedure. It did not surprise us that when the raid in Divisoria was actually conducted on Dec. 10, the smuggled carrots had disappeared.

What saved the operation is that Senator Pangilinan arrived and publicly supported the anti-smuggling action.

In addition, DA Secretary Alcala directed BPI director Clarita Barron to personally take the appropriate action on the evidence collected on Dec. 5. With the help of Channels 2, 5 and 7, Divisoria retailers now know that they are subject to sanctions for selling smuggled goods.

If the retailers won’t buy from the smugglers for fear of being caught, the smugglers will decrease their activities. The Alyansa did these actions before and they succeeded: Prices were restored to their former levels, and farmers’ livelihood was saved.


Smuggling is a curse that the Customs agency should address by improving procedures.

This is but one of several procedures that Alyansa has recommended.

Alyansa has 10 years of experience in fighting smuggling. Their recommendations should be properly considered by the appropriate officials, including those from the Department of Finance who are responsible for supervising the Customs agency.

(The author is chairman of Agri-watch, former Secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects, and former Undersecretary for Agriculture, Trade and Industry. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail agriwatch_phil@yahoo.com or telefax (02) 8522112).

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Agriculture , Bureau of Customs , Philippines , Smuggling

  • angeljme

    in the first place the carrots shouldn’t have passed borders to be sold in local market… BoC lagi kayong natutulog sa kankungan or should i say natutulog sa lagayan?

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  • Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  • 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  • Napoles surgery in Makati hospital successful
  • Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Sports

  • Mixers trim Aces; Painters repulse Bolts
  • Donaire junks Garcia as coach, taps father
  • ’Bye Ginebra: No heavy heart this time
  • UAAP board tackles new rules
  • Baguio climb to decide Le Tour de Filipinas
  • Lifestyle

  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Visiting chefs from Denmark get creative with ‘ube,’ ‘ buko,’ ‘calamansi,’ mangoes
  • Salted baked potatoes
  • A first in a mall: Authentic Greek yogurt–made fresh in front of diners
  • Entertainment

  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • In love … with acting
  • From prison to the peak of success
  • ‘Asedillo’ location thrives
  • Business

  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Philippine Airlines to stop shipment of shark fins
  • PH banks not ready for Asean integration
  • Stocks down on profit-taking
  • Banks allowed to use ‘cloud’
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  • Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks
  • Marketplace