Probe of coconut seedlings smuggling to China urged
THE FIGHT Illicit Trade (Fight IT) Movement is seeking an investigation into the alleged massive smuggling of partially de-husked coconuts from the Visayas to China, which is not only a violation of the law, but also an “act of economic sabotage.”
Jesus Lim Arranza, who chairs both the Fight IT Movement and the Federation of Philippine Industries Inc., said in a briefing Monday there was rampant export of de-husked coconuts, which are used by China as seedlings to grow their own coconut trees.
Based on reports, Arranza said at least 200,000 coconuts from Leyte are shipped to Cebu daily in a given period.
The de-husked coconuts are bought from farmers in Leyte for P12 to P13 per piece—up to an estimated total so far of P2.4 to P2.6 million—and shipped to Cebu in 10-wheeler trucks.
Broker gets millions
A Cebu broker buys the coconuts and ships them to Hainan, China, charging P50 apiece, Arranza said. This means the Cebu broker rakes in some P10 million gross.
Arranza has written Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, Customs Commissioner Alberto D. Lina and Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Administrator Glenn B. Santos, calling for an urgent investigation into the alleged smuggling.
“This illegal operation is currently happening in Palo, Leyte, as well as in Sogod, Southern Leyte, where partially de-husked whole coconuts in 10-wheeler vans are brought to Cebu via the ports of Ormoc, Baybay and Hilongos. Once the vans arrive in Cebu, they are transferred to container vans and shipped to Hainan,” he said.
This was not only an act of economic sabotage, but was also akin to treason since these local operators were giving away a product that will eventually make China a competitor, Arranza said.
“Only Indonesia and the Philippines have been gifted by nature with good quality coconut that is envied by other countries, hence exporting it in violation of regulations is obviously giving away our competitive advantage to our grave prejudice,” he said.
Arranza said the Philippines was one of the top producers of high-quality coconuts and the second-biggest exporter of coconut-based products in the world.
“To protect our exports and the local industry, Executive Order No. 1016 prohibits the export of mature coconuts and coconut seedlings,” he said.