10 flight attendants from Philippine Airlines were caught trying to smuggle 40 kilos of onions and fruits into the Philippines from the Middle East.
According to a Bureau of Customs statement seen by local media, the 10 Philippine Airline flight attendants arrived in Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) after a working flight from King Khalid International Airport (RUH) in Riyadh and Dubai International Airport (DXB) on January 10, 2023.
Altogether, the flight attendants had over 40 kilos of onions and fruits in their personal luggage, and the agricultural products were confiscated after it was found that they have no import permit / clearance from Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).
The country’s Bureau of Customs is said to be investigating the case to determine what charges it can bring against the flight attendants.
“Included in the BOC probe is (determining) the charges that we can file, because we have caught many people doing the same these past few months. Our quarantine law specifically prohibits bringing home agricultural products unless these have permits from the country of origin,” a BOC spokesperson told local media.
The BOC further claimed that the flight attendants displayed “unruly behavior” by stomping on and destroying the onions and fruits upon being informed of their violations.
Meanwhile, a number of Philippine senators slammed the BOC for pursuing an investigation into the incident.
During a senate inquiry, one senator stated he believed the products that the flight attendants brought were only meant for personal consumption as onion prices in Philippine public markets have surged to up to ₱700 ($ 13.00) per kilogram.
“This is an eye-opener, our situation is that bad. This is already a cause for alert. Millions are getting away with smuggling, but this is being punished while the big-time smugglers, and cartels are getting away” the senator said.
Recent typhoons, a new president, and questionable business dealings are a number of factors that have contributed to current onion shortage in the Philippines.