BoC nixes filing charges vs 10 flight attendants

The 10 flight attendants who brought in 11 kilos of onions from Dubai need not shed a tear as the Bureau of Customs said the agency does not have the heart to file criminal charges against them despite violating the law.

Lourdes Mangaoang, deputy collector for Passenger Service at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, clarified the BoC did not even initiate any investigation against the involved flight crews.

“To clarify, we have not initiated any investigation against those flight attendants. However, the carrier they are working for has conducted a probe into the report they imported onions from Dubai,” Mangaoang said.

The Customs official added the imported onions did not detain the flight attendants who were seized for violating RA 10845 o the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016 or the “large-scale smuggling of agricultural pro­ducts.” The law does not exempt “gifts,” she added.

In addition, importing undeclared agricultural products without a “sanitary at phytosanitary clearance certificate” from the country of origin and the Bureau of Plant and Industry violates Presidential Decree 1433 or the “Plant Qua­rantine Decree of 1978.”

“One of the functions of Customs is to protect our borders from illegal importation of fresh produce, agricultural products, and plants that could carry pests and other sicknesses that could harm our domestic agriculture,” Mangaoang explained.

The luggage of 10 flight attendants from Dubai and Riyadh on 10 January 2023, and the BoC conducted physical examinations of their baggage following an X-Ray screening, which revealed various agricultural products, such as onions and fruits, without the necessary Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance from the BPI.

Under the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, the importation of plant products considered “Regulated Importations” require prior clearance or permit from the concerned regulatory government agency.

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