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10 PAL crew members may face disciplinary sanctions after bringing undeclared goods

Ten flight crew members of Philippine Airlines (PAL) may face disciplinary sanctions after they were caught bringing in undeclared fruits and vegetables from Riyadh and Dubai.

The crew members were found to have brought in onions, lemons, and strawberries on January 10, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) said, according to a report on GMA Integrated News' 24 Oras Weekend on Saturday.

BPI said an import permit and phytosanitary permit need to be presented when bringing in agricultural items. 

However, the 10 flight crew members were not able to present these documents.

The crew members allegedly attempted to destroy the agricultural products when they learned that these would be confiscated.

PAL said it is already conducting a probe into the incident.

"We are investigating the incident involving ten crew members who were found to be carrying undeclared vegetables and fruits in their baggage after flying in from Riyadh and Dubai last January 10," PAL spokesperson Ma. Cielo Villaluna said in a statement.

"Philippine Airlines does not condone any violation of customs regulations. We will impose the appropriate disciplinary sanctions subject to the results of the investigations," she added.

"We are fully cooperating with the customs authorities on this matter. We reiterate to all our personnel the need to adhere strictly to customs regulations at all times," Villaluna said.

For its part, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said the entry of any agricultural goods should have the proper clearances and permits, and this should have been known to the crew given the nature of their work.

“Iyong origin na bansa po na pinanggalingan nila, dapat po iyong mga produkto na agricultural po ay mayroong permit from origin and also from our Bureau of Plant Industry,” BOC spokesperson Arnaldo Dela Torre Jr. said in Katrina Son's report on “24 Oras Weekend” on Sunday.

(The agricultural products should have the permits from the country of origin and also from our Bureau of Plant Industry.)

“They are not exempted, they are not excused po na sabihin na hindi nila alam po na bawal iyon,” he added.

The agricultural goods were forwarded to the BPI's storage facility in Malate, Manila, for proper disposal. —with Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas/KG/BM, GMA Integrated News