Customs seizes contraband fruits from Africa worth PHP 3.7-M

MANILA, (PNA) — Ten 40-foot container vans containing fruits worth PHP 3.7 million were apprehended by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday at the Manila International Container Port, as part of its drive against the entry of shipments that may pose risks to public health and the local agriculture industry.

In a statement, the BOC said the shipments of nine vans filled with oranges and one van loaded with apples, weighing 288,000 kilograms (288 Metric Tons) arrived in the country in five separate batches from Cape Town, South Africa from June 30 to July 21, 2014.

The BOC said the shipments were consigned to EBD Fruits Commercial, Gwearjam Imports, GWSI Fruits Commercial, Bounty Source Trading and Tresmarios Enterprises

The seized shipments will be subjected to forfeiture proceedings in favor of the government.

The cargoes were placed under Alert Order by the Bureau’s Intelligence Group on the basis of derogatory information as the consignees failed to submit the required a Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) Import Clearance or Permit from the Bureau of Plant Industry.

Earlier, the Bureau of Plant Industry and the Department of Agriculture (DA) advised the Customs not to release any shipment of agricultural products from Africa without prior clearance.

Importing fruits without the proper import permits from the DA is in violation of Presidential Decree No. 1433 (Promulgating the Plant Quarantine Law of 1978, thereby Revising and Consolidating Existing Plant Quarantine Laws to Further Improve and Strengthen Service of the Bureau of Plant Industry), which states that traders who wish to import agricultural products must first secure permits from the DA.

On the other hand, four other shipments of contraband oranges from South Africa have been placed under Alert Orders in the Port of Manila, and the Port of Davao. Investigations are on-going against the importers and customs brokers of the illegally shipments.

The seizure of the shipments is part of the government’s effort against the movement of all cargo from Africa as part of precautionary measures against an outbreak of the Ebola virus.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization issued a global alert on the deadly virus after the recorded deaths of 1,500 people in West Africa.

Experts said that the transmittal of the virus is mainly through blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected animals, body fluid and stool of an infected person, objects such as contaminated needles and soiled linen used by a patient, and the body of a deceased person.