(UPDATED) MILLIONS of pesos worth of smuggled white onions, fish, and frozen meat products were discovered in 17 container vans at the Port of Subic Bay in Olongapo City on Wednesday, according to Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) President Rosendo So.
In an interview with The Juan Kabayan, So said the joint operation was conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Customs, and members of Sinag.
“Last week, we informed Sen. Imee Marcos that there are still container vans in Subic that have yet to be inspected, that is why the operation was conducted,” So told The Times.
So added that smuggled onions and other agricultural products were also seized from at least nine container vans in Subic on Tuesday.
“At least nine container vans were seized on Tuesday, and today (Wednesday) there are at least 17 (container vans). Among those confiscated were beef, pork, fish, mackerel, bread, white onions, buffalo meat and squid,” So added.
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According to So, at least 12 container vans contained smuggled white onions.
So said that based on his estimate, one container van contained at least 25 metric tons of white onions amounting to P7.5 million.
According to So, the smuggled agricultural products came from China.
“The buffalo meat came from India and transported to China before being brought to the Philippines,” So noted.
So said that the confiscated products will be disposed of after the confiscation.
At the same time, So said that Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Inspectorate and Enforcement James Layug is scheduled to file charges against two consignees behind the illegal entry of white onions and carrots for violation of Republic Act 10845 or the “Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.”
“Assistant Secretary Layug is expected to file charges against two individuals who brought in the smuggled carrots and onions,” So said.
So said that based on the data of Sinag, a total of P10-billion smuggled pork products were confiscated this year and at least P20 billion for onions.
Earlier, Layug said that the DA is now coordinating with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla for the creation of a task force that will investigate the network of agricultural smuggling.
According to Layug, smuggling should be stopped as it affects the local farmers.
“If the underground economy thrives, it deprives the farmers of income. The illicit trade also breeds corruption,” Layug noted.