AN ESTIMATED 100 metric tons (MT) or 100,000 kilograms of smuggled garlic from Hong Kong worth P30 million was seized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) at the Port of Batangas on Friday.

The four 40-footer container vans arrived in two separate shipments on June 1, 2014 and June 12, 2014, and were declared as "cocoa beans to be used as raw material for chocolate."

The shipments were consigned to a certain Good Earth Merchandising, based in Barangay Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City; and was brokered by a certain Antonio Enriquez, with address at Tuktukan, Guiguinto, Bulacan.

The BOC said since the shipment was misdeclared, it had no phytosanitary clearance as mandated by the Department of Agriculture (DA) for imported agricultural products.

The cargoes were subjected to Alert Orders by the BOC's Intelligence Group based on derogatory information. Upon the conduct of spot-checking, it was found out that the contents thereof was garlic instead of chocolate raw materials as declared in the Bill of Lading.

Hence, a Warrant of Seizure and Detention was issued against the subject shipment for violation of Section 2503 in relation to Section 2530 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.

The four container vans were subjected to 100 percent examination at the said port and will undergo forfeiture proceedings in favor of the government.

The seizure came as retails prices for garlic soared to as high as P300 to P400 a kilo, from the usual P60 to P90 per kilo. Based on monitoring of the DA, garlic prices increased by 213 percent in the first quarter of 2014.

The BOC said that the shipments will be destroyed. (FP/Sunnex)