VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Customs officials flip-flop on probe into PAL crew’s importation of onions and fruits

The Bureau of Customs was conducting “further investigation” on the Philippine Airlines flight crew from Dubai and Riyadh for undeclared importation of onions and fruits, a BOC press release said on Jan. 17.


On Jan. 16, Lourdes Mangaoang, Customs deputy collector for passenger service at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, said the BOC was not investigating the PAL flight crewmembers. She said it was PAL that was conducting the probe for violating a policy against importation.

Officials of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) gave contradicting statements on an incident involving members of a Philippines Airlines (PAL) crew who brought undeclared agricultural products into the country.

Airport authorities had confiscated alleged illegally imported agricultural products found in the luggage of 10 PAL flight attendants who flew in from Dubai and Riyadh on Jan. 10.  The BOC x-ray screening had revealed various agricultural products, such as onions and fruits, that did not have the required clearance from the Bureau of Plant Industry inside the luggage of the crew.

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Editor’s note: This article was updated on Jan. 30, 2023 to include the video fact check.

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ABS-CBN News, SRO | TeleRadyo (16 January 2023), Jan. 16, 2023

ABS-CBN News, Sakto | TeleRadyo (16 January 2023), Jan. 16, 2023

Bureau of Customs, BOC-NAIA, BPI seize agricultural products from 10 Flight Attendants, Jan. 17, 2023

CNN Philippines, Customs spokesperson Arnold Dela Torre | The Source, Jan. 18, 2023

Official Gazette, Presidential Decree No. 1433, s. 1978, June 10, 1978

Official Gazette, Republic Act No. 1085, May 23, 2016

PTV, PANOORIN: Public Briefing #LagingHandaPH | January 19, 2023, Jan. 19, 2023


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)