DA, BOC on ‘high alert’ against smuggling of agricultural products

Marje Pelayo   •   April 25, 2018   •   3823


MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has collaborated with the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in intensifying campaign against smuggling of agricultural products following the interception of imported onions in the Port of Manila last week.

On his Facebook account, Secretary Piñol said he asked Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña “to place under “Alert Status” all incoming shipments declared as agricultural products.”

Piñol said, this means, “all containers arriving at the Port of Manila and in other ports all over the country from foreign sources will now be subjected to mandatory inspection.”

Secretary Piñol and Commissioner Lapeña on Monday, April 23, inspected 17 container vans with contents declared as “apples” which later discovered as “apple-sized” onions. The shipment arrived at the port last week from China.

Piñol explained that imported onions are subject for 35% tariff duties while apples are exempted. This perhaps prompted the consignee to misdeclare the shipment in order to escape tariff obligations.

Foiled Bribery Revealed

In a press conference Tuesday, April 24, it was revealed that an anonymous caller attempted to bribe the intercepting team led by Customs Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan. The offer was initially P200,000 for each container van. When Cayanan refused and said their efforts were non-negotiable, the caller increased the offer to P2 million for each container van.

He said the caller initially refused to have the containers inspected.

“Sabi kasi huwag nang pabuksan. Sabi ko, ‘Hindi pwede, i-strip lahat iyan’,” Cayanan said.

(The caller said not to open it. I replied, “No, strip all of them.”)

He added that the caller later agreed to have the last container opened under the condition that neither Cayanan nor Piñol will be present.

Not Fit for Consumption

Secretary Piñol said the seized onions will be destroyed primarily because of sanitary issues.

He explained they are not sure of the quality of the onions which could pose health risks to consumers.

In a statement, Secretary Piñol said his decision to alert authorities against agricultural smuggling also aims to address illegal activities of bringing in agricultural products in the country “which not only defrauds government of revenues but also adversely affects our farmers and fishermen.”

Piñol added that “unchecked entry of these products also pose a serious risk on Philippine agriculture because pests and diseases could be brought in since these are not covered by Sanitary and Pytho-Sanitary (SPS) inspections.”

Meanwhile, BOC is preparing the appropriate charges to file against the consignee of the smuggled onions. —Rey Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue

Agriculture Dept. wants bigger budget for 2021

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture is proposing a P284.4 billion budget for 2021, more than thrice its current budget of P79.9 billion, to fund its programs.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar made the proposal during a teleconference with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture and Food on Wednesday.

Dar said the proposed budget would be used to bankroll its existing and new projects – P61.8 billion and P222 billion, respectively – for the year 2021.

“The agri-fishery sector, for the longest time, has been a ‘sleeping giant’ of the national economy, whose vast potentials remain largely untapped to achieve higher and sustainable growth,” Dar said.

“While the agriculture sector contributes about 10 percent (%) to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), it gets a measly share of total national appropriations, at three to five percent in the last 10 years,” he added.

The Agriculture chief said the sector will continue to perform poorly if it is not given the proper financial support.

“If we were to ensure that agriculture contributes its full potentials in the country’s economic recovery in the ‘new normal,’ we need to augment the DA budget,” Dar said.

If approved, the DA said the budget will be used to further increase the production of major commodities for next year. For the rice sector, the department proposes a budget allocation of P56 billion; P22.5 billion for fisheries; P13.75 billion for high-value crops; P11.25 billion for livestock; and P6.6 billion for corn.

The department also plans to spend P130 billion to bankroll locally-funded projects, construction of farm-to-market roads, implementation of national soil health, and young farmers’ programs; P7.15 billion as counterpart for foreign-assisted projects such as the Philippine Rural Development Project; P3 billion on market development services; and P960.4 million on organic agriculture.

“In all, the budget is intended to sustain, reboot, and grow the Philippine agriculture and fisheries sector, amid the challenges brought by the pandemic and into the ‘new normal’,” Dar said.

Quezon Province First District Representative Wilfrido Mark Enverga, who headed the committee, said at the hearing that Dar’s request is just a ‘wish list’ at the moment given the magnitude of the budget proposal.

BOC warns public against ‘unclaimed package’ scam

Marje Pelayo   •   July 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Customs (BOC) warns the public against the so-called ‘unclaimed package’ scam.

The Bureau has been receiving reports of scam incidents involving unscrupulous individuals luring victims with a supposed unclaimed package at Customs using various means of communication such as online, e-mail, SMS and even phone calls.

Scammers allegedly use dummies or fake accounts. At times they would even use the Bureau’s name or pose as employees to deceive victims into paying duties and taxes through money remittance or personal bank accounts for the release of a certain package.

They even send bogus receipts, tracking numbers of packages and other documents to the victims to make the transaction seem legitimate.

Some scammers also use sophisticated methods such as the use of fake courier tracking websites that victims would be asked to visit to see the status of the supposed parcel.

The BOC reiterates that it solely assesses duties and taxes on parcels and these can be paid on a cash basis through the courier or freight forwarder upon delivery at the client’s doorstep or upon pick up of the parcel at the nearest local branch.

Furthermore, said duties and taxes can only be collected through BOC-accredited agent banks and not through personal bank accounts or other money transfer services.

Meanwhile, alleged tracking websites can be verified with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through its website to see if the said courier is a DTI-accredited deconsolidator.

The public is advised to be careful in dealing with suspicious notifications and individuals asking for money.

How to spot a scammer?

  • Scammer fails to provide the address of their office
  • Scammer insists on paying through online banks and money remittance

What to do?

  • Immediately inform the Customs helpdesk or the BOC-CARES through email at boc.cares@customs.gov.ph or send a message tot he BOC’s Facebook page – Bureau of Customs PH

Report online scams to the cybercrime offices of the Philippine National Police or National Bureau of Investigation.

No photo description available.

BOC NAIA conducts stricter agri products inspection amid new swine flu

Maris Federez   •   July 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Custom (BOC) announced that its personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has intercepted a total of 775.6 kilograms of meat and meat products without Sanitary & Phytosanitary clearances from January to June 2020.

In a statement released on Saturday (July 4), the BOC said the meat and meat products that they have confiscated include 268.2 kilograms of pork, 106.4 kilograms of beef, 298.2 kilograms of poultry, and 102 kilograms of other kinds of meat.

The BOC added these products arrived without permits and health clearance, and were brought in through NAIA from African Swine Fever (ASF) infected countries.

“All the items were turned over to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) for quarantine and immediate disposal to prevent the spread of the virus dangerous to local health and to the food industry,” the press release read.

It added that, with the emergence of a new strain of swine flu virus, the frontliners of the BOC-NAIA who man the passenger area and air cargo warehouses are on high alert against the possible entry of contaminated meat products.

“Customs NAIA has been consistent in protecting our local industry from any possible swine and agricultural epidemic and supports the directive of Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero to continuously monitor and safeguard the country’s borders,” the statement concluded. —/mbmf


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