Ten Filipino cabin crew members have been charged with smuggling for attempting to bring onions and fruits into the Philippines from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The Philippine Airlines staff members were caught with 27kg of onions, 10.5kg of lemons, and 1kg of strawberries and blueberries upon their arrival at Terminal 1 of Manila’s international airport. The confiscated items were handed over to the Bureau of Plant Quarantine for destruction.
The incident highlights the rising problem of smuggling in the Philippines, as a result of the country’s inflation crisis. Onions have now become more expensive than beef and chicken in the Philippines, leading many Filipino expats to attempt to bring the vegetable back home with them. Customs authorities have been cracking down on this activity, with a recent bust netting $310,000 worth of white onions concealed in a clothing shipment.
The Philippine Airlines spokesperson has stated that the airline is cooperating with airport authorities and that flight attendants have been reminded that bringing fruits or any plants into the country is prohibited. A government official has also clarified that bringing onions or any other agricultural products in one’s luggage is considered importation and requires clearance from the appropriate authorities.
Economist Joey Salceda has lamented that the Philippines now has the “world’s most expensive domestic onion prices”. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has stated that he hopes to find a way to sell the smuggled onions to “reduce the supply problems” the country is facing. However, this may prove difficult as customs authorities continue to crack down on smuggling activities.
In conclusion, the inflation crisis in the Philippines has led to a rise in smuggling activities as many Filipino expats attempt to bring onions back home with them. This has prompted a crackdown by customs authorities and charges being filed against 10 Filipino cabin crew members. The country is facing sky-high prices for staples such as onions and is grappling with the effects of last year’s super typhoons on crops.