The Bureau of Customs (BOC) will not file a complaint against the ten flight crew members of an airline who were caught bringing home “undeclared” fruits and vegetables–including onions–from Riyadh and Dubai.
“Pagka doon naman sa pagkakaso, sa ngayon wala pong ganun,” said BOC spokesperson and Customs Operation chief Arnaldo Dela Torre Jr., in a public briefing.
On January 10, flight attendants were found to have brought home onions, lemons, and strawberries from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, without proper permits.
Although the BOC will not file a complaint, Dela Torre said they might take action regarding the behavior of the crews.
The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) previously said that disciplinary sanctions might be imposed on the crew due to the incident.
“’Yun pong legal na action na gagawin ng BOC at ng quarantine office ay with regards po doon sa behavior, doon sa pagkakataon o insidente na kung saan ay merong hindi magandang nangyari po. ‘Yun po yung legal na action,” he said.
Customs will not file case vs. flight crew who brought home onions
Dela Torre also mentioned that, as stipulated under Presidential Decree 1433 or the Plant Quarantine Decree of 1978, the BOC must confiscate the products without a permit from the BPI.
The official further said that agricultural products brought into the country without sanitary and phytosanitary clearance certificates and permits from BPI are not allowed, no matter how much they are.
“Wala hong limitasyon. Ibig sabihin po, kahit isang piraso lang po ito o isang kilo lang po ito po ay subject sa confiscation ng BOC together with the quarantine officer,” said Dela Torre.
“Ito po ay para ma proteksyonan ang agri-industry natin against sa mga peste at saka sa mga diseases na idudulot nito sa industriya,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dela Torre clarified that they accept the criticism of some senators on the agency’s confiscation of such products.
“Welcome po ang Bureau of Customs sa pagkondena sapagkat hindi naman ho natin maalis ‘yung pinanggagalingan na sentimento ng ating mga kababayan,” said the BOC spokesperson.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) hopes that the price of onions will drop now that the government’s imports from other countries are set to arrive — because it reaches about P600/kilo while “there is a supply problem.”