Senators slam Customs officials for shaming flight crew members who ‘smuggled’ onions instead of apprehending ‘big-time’ smugglers

Senators have slammed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for “charging” and “shaming” the airline crew members who were found attempting to bring in 15.5 kilos of onions into the country.

Some 10 Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight staff were reportedly being investigated after their baggage went through the mandatory customs lane and were later found to carry an “unauthorized” amount of onions, as well as other fruits and vegetables from the Middle East.

“The PAL crew got arrested for smuggling of onions… two kilograms, one kilogram, with a value of US$100 to US$150. But we have millions worth of onions that have managed to get smuggled past us. Are we really going after this, but we let big-time cartels, smugglers, and protectors get away?” Sen. JV Ejercito said during a Senate committee hearing on the onion crisis.

“Why did you apprehend them? Go after the big-time [ones]. Perhaps they’re always hanging out in your office. This is unacceptable… you should be ashamed of yourselves. You even humiliated the airline crew who just wanted to bring pasalubong (take-home gifts) to their families,” Sen. Raffy Tulfo said.

The Bureau of Customs immediately confiscated the goods and said the airline staff violated three customs and plant quarantine laws.