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P2.4M agarwood intercepted at Fedex warehouse in Pasay

THREE packages weighing 28 kilos of agarwood with an estimated street value of P2.4 million were intercepted in a Fedex warehouse in Pasay City by the Bureau of Customs-Port of NAIA, in coordination with the Environment Protection Compliance Division (EPCD) of the customs bureau.

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), agarwood is a resin valued for its distinctive fragrance. It is formed when the host tree becomes infected with a mold called Phialophoraparasitica.

The mold infection makes the tree produce a dark aromatic resin called aloes or aga in its heartwood. The fragrant resin is used to make incense, perfume and medicinal products particularly in the Middle East and Asia.

Agarwood is classified under the “Appendix 2” of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

The DENR stressed that selling of agarwood or lapnisan is illegal in the Philippines. It is found only in the heart of the jungles in Mindanao and Visayas. Foreigners are said to hike in remote villages in the country seeking help to find the rare tree.

BOC-NAIA District Collector Carmelita ‘Mimel’ Talusan said the treasure is one of the rarest and expensive trees in the world. A kilo of agarwood fetches as much as P750,000.

Documents showed that the packages were misdeclared as face masks and clothes, shoes and hand bags, and leather jackets, face masks, man pants. All three packages were shipped by a resident from Davao to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Upon x-ray inspection, the packages yielded different images compared to what were declared by the sender. Consequently, these were subjected to 100% physical examination.

A total of 28 kilos of agarwood were found during the examination. Additionally, the packages were attempted to be exported without the necessary permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The packages shall be subjected to seizure and forfeiture proceedings for violation of Section 117 (Regulated Shipments), Section 1400 (Misdeclaration) and Section 1113 (Property Subject to Seizure and Forfeiture), all of Republic Act No. 10863 (CMTA) in relation to Section 27 (i) [Illegal Transport] of Republic Act No. 9147 (Wild Life Act). Thereafter, these will be turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Amid the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Talusan said the BoC-NAIA will maintain its commitment to protect the country’s border and prevent attempts to import and export endangered species, illegal goods and contrabands in full compliance and support to the intensified border control and protection priority agenda of Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.