Imported carrots ‘diverted’ to Manila from Mindanao seized

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TWO reefer vans of imported carrots from China declared as ‘chocolates’ that landed at the Port of Cagayan de Oro but transferred to Manila, apparently to misled authorities that they were domestic cargo, were apprehended by alert operatives of the Bureau of Customs.

Lawyer Jesus Balmores, Officer-in-Charge of the North Harbor Port under the Manila International Container Port (MICP), said he immediately ordered the examination of the shipment on its arrival last August 16, 2022, based on the information provided earlier by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

The information disclosed that the 2X40-footer vans (OCHR 113045 and OCHR 1144356) containing the carrots had left the port of Cagayan de Oro using the domestic shipping route on board the vessel, ‘Ocean United’ under voyage number 16N.

The domestic bill of lading (B/L 1-515885) described the cargo as ‘chocolates’ with the consignee/shipper identified as one ‘Billie Jean Pineda.’

Customs intelligence officers who declined to be named for the moment disclosed they have been monitoring the movement of the containers since June 17, 2022, when they were first alerted by the BPI about the shipment.

Further inspection of the containers disclosed that the containers’ prefix and number on all sides “appear to be sticker-like label,” raising the suspicion that those behind the smuggling attempt has taken great effort to hide the illegal cargo by tampering the containers’ identification numbers.

For the moment, the BOC is yet to release the assess value of the apprehended shipment, which had been ordered seized by MICP district collector Romeo Allan Rosales.

Under Section 3 of RA 10845 (Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016), the smuggling of agricultural and fisheries products other than rice with a value of P1 million and above is considered as “large scale smuggling” tantamount to ‘economic sabotage’ with a penalty of life imprisonment (no bail) and a fine of twice the fair (market) value of the smuggled products.

The same penalty is imposed on those smuggling rice valued at P10 million or more.

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