UAE - Philippine authorities are filing smuggling charges against 10 Filipino cabin crew members who tried to bring home onions and fruits from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, local media reported on Saturday.
The Philippine Airlines staff—who arrived on two separate flights from Dubai (PR 659) and Riyadh (PR 655) on Friday —were caught with 27kg onions, 10.5kg lemons, and 1kg strawberries and blueberries, according to a report by Manila-based radio station DWIZ 882.
The confiscated items were found in suitcases upon the cabin crew’s arrival at Terminal 1 of Manila’s international airport, the report added, quoting a statement from a Customs officer.
Lawyer Ma Lourdes Mangaoang, deputy collector for passenger services, told the radio station that the flight attendants failed to declare the confiscated items in the customs baggage declaration form.
In a previous Khaleej Times report, a government official clarified that bringing onions or any other agricultural products in one’s luggage is considered importation — even in quantities for personal use.
“Importation is done through a certain process, where various clearances have to be sought,” said Nolet Fulgencio, agriculture attaché at the Philippine Consulate-General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
The reminder comes as many Filipino expats have been flying home with luggages filled with onions, considering how the vegetable’s price had skyrocketed to Dh40 per kilogramme in Manila.
Customs authorities had handed over the haul to the Bureau of Plant Quarantine for immediate destruction.
The cabin crew members are set to face charges of smuggling in violation of the Customs Modernisation and Tariff Act and Presidential Decree 1433 for violation of the Plant Quarantine Law.
The airline has been informed of the incident and its flight attendants have been reminded that bringing fruits or any plants into the country is prohibited, a Philippine Airlines spokesperson said in the report. It added that the carrier is cooperating with airport authorities.
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