The Department of Agriculture (DA), together with other members of Sub-Task Group on Economic Intelligence (STG EI) of the IATF Task Group on Food Security, has seized P42-million worth of smuggled red onion in the Port of Subic Bay, which is feared to be part of the ongoing large scale agricultural smuggling in the area.

In a memorandum, Agriculture Secretary William Dar was informed of the continuing Alert Order that has been imposed against a couple of importers, Thousand Sunny Enterprise and Dua Te Mira Non Specialized Wholesale, in Subic Bay.

The memorandum, submitted by Federico Laciste, Jr., assistant secretary for the DA-Wide Field Inspectorate, flagged the two companies for alleged involvement in a “large scale agricultural smuggling”, which involves misdeclaration of import shipment.

In their official papers, the companies said their reefers, 12 of them, contained frozen chapati bread, but it turned out to be red onion with an estimated value of P42 million, according to Customs officials.

The examination was conducted on July 12 by personnel of STG EI, including officials from the DA, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), and PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. It was done in the presence of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairperson Wilma Eisma, Port of Subic District Collector Maritess T. Marti, and Trade Assistant Secretary for Consumer Protection Group Ronnel O. Abrenica.

A joint investigation between the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and STG EI will be conducted to establish personalities involved in the facilitation of this technical smuggling.

Meanwhile, cases of violation of RA 10845, otherwise known as the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, against the importers will also be filed by the BOC. Custody and disposal of the seized items are all under BOC disposition.

Source: Manila Bulletin (