FORTY-TWO containers of mature coconuts did not make it to their buyers in China after the Bureau of Customs (BOC)-Port of Cebu seized the fruits last Saturday, December 11, 2021.

In a statement Tuesday, the bureau said there is an export ban on mature coconuts.

The BOC said the seized coconuts were worth P232 million.

The BOC conducted a spot check after receiving derogatory information on the shipments, which had been declared in export declaration forms as containing paper waste.

Customs Trade Control Examiner Ma. Theresa Ricalde and representatives from the Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) and Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service examined the shipments in the presence of the exporter’s agent, the bureau said.

“Finding probable cause, District Collector Charlito Martin R. Mendoza immediately issued Warrants of Seizure and Detention against the export shipments based on Section 1113 (f) and (l) (3), (4), and (5) in relation to Section 118 (g) of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, Executive Order No. 1016 series of 1985, and Resolution of the Inter-Agency Committee on Executive Order No. 1016 dated 19 June 1992 listing mature coconuts among the prohibited products for exportation,” the bureau said.

The fate of the mature coconuts will be left to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), to whom the fruits will be turned over.

The BOC said the seizure of the illegal export was intended to protect domestic industries and Philippine farmers.

In December 2019, amid calls to lift the ban to give local farmers better prices for their coconuts, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the PCA Governing Board agreed to keep the export ban on mature coconuts after the farmgate price of copra recovered from a low of P2 to P20.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) instead tasked the PCA to help copra farmers and groups to directly market their copra.

The DA also wants to keep the copra in the country to promote value-adding activities.

Copra, which refers to the dried coconut meat or kernel, is prized for the coconut oil that can be extracted from it.