Customs Deputy Commissioner Jessie Dellosa, Director Dante Fidel and Ariel Bayot of the Bureau of Plant Industries inspect oranges illegally imported from South Africa.
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs seized illegally imported fruits from South Africa amounting to P3.7 million.
The fruits were shipped in 10 40-foot container vans, nine of which were filled with oranges and one with apples, and arrived at the Manila International Container Port in five separate batches from Cape Town, South Africa from June 30 to July 21, 2014.
The shipments, weighing an estimated 288,000 kilograms, were consigned to EBD Fruits Commercial; Gwearjam Imports; GWSI Fruits Commercial; Bounty Source Trading; and Tresmarios Enterprises.
Customs said the consignees failed to submit the required Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) import clearance or permit from the Bureau of Plant Industry.
The Bureau of Plant Industry and the Department of Agriculture (DA) had also earlier advised Customs not to release any shipment of agricultural products from Africa without prior clearance.
Importing fruits without the proper import permits from the DA violates 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.
The seized shipments will be subjected to forfeiture proceedings in favor of the government.
Four other shipments of oranges from South Africa have been placed under Alert Orders by Customs in the Port of Manila and the Port of Davao, and will be seized and forfeited.
Investigations are on-going against the importers and customs brokers of the illegally imported orange shipments.
Government has raised precautions against the movement of all cargo from Africa as part of precautionary measures against an outbreak of the Ebola virus.
Transmittal of the virus, however, has so far been 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.