Customs bureau intensifies crackdown vs agri smuggling
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is doubling down on the campaign against the smuggling of agricultural products as the Marcos administration earmarked P42.8 billion in this year’s national budget to help firm up domestic farm output.
Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio said in a statement that since he assumed office on Feb. 13, the bureau had heightened its efforts to seize various smuggled agricultural products. It had likewise filed criminal cases before the Department of Justice against unscrupulous importers.
Since then, the BOC has issued five warrants of seizure and detention against various agricultural shipments.
One batch involves 30,000 sacks of misdeclared refined sugar worth an estimated P150 million that were discovered upon a physical examination of 58 containers at the Subic Bay New Container Terminal on March 2.
“We strongly condemn those unethical acts of fraudulent importers as they endanger the health and safety of local consumers and negatively impact the livelihood of local farmers and businesses,” Rubio said.
“As we heighten our intelligence and enforcement measures to thwart smuggling attempts of unscrupulous importers, we also ensure that those found guilty face the maximum lawful consequences they deserve,” he added.
Also in Subic, the BOC found misdeclared assorted frozen meat products valued at about P40 million in two containers of squid rings.
On March 10, the BOC discovered red and yellow onions in 18 containers that were supposed to contain only pizza dough and fish balls.
Meanwhile, the Department of Budget and Management said this year’s national budget includes P42.8 billion intended to support food security programs and help transform the agriculture sector into one of the main drivers for growth and employment in the country.
The National Rice Program has been allocated P30.3 billion or double the budget for rice production in 2022. The National Corn Program has a P5.02-billion budget this year. INQ