Philippines Customs Seizes Php 1.72M-worth of Agarwood, world’s most expensive tree

The Philippines Bureau of Customs – Port of Davao, through its office at the Davao International Airport and its Environmental Protection and Compliance Division, in coordination with BOC – Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the PNP Aviation Security Group and the DENR Region XI, had intercepted a shipment of agarwood, the most expensive tree, worth 1.72 Million Pesos thereby prohibiting potential illegal export thereof. This type of wood is included in the National List of Threatened Philippine Plants per DENR Administrative Order No. 2007-01.

Records show that the package was initially misdeclared as “wood frames for souvenirs”. However, after x-ray scanning and physical examination, the package was instead found to contain 671 pieces of Agarwood chips sought to be illegally exported from the country without the necessary permits from the DENR.

The apprehension took place after this Port had intensified its watch over these types of shipments in a more strengthen coordination with the Bureau of Customs NAIA. The same is interestingly similar to the recent interception by the latter Office of 28 kilos outbound package of Agarwood worth P2.4 million last December 2, 2020. Customs NAIA will continue to coordinate with this Port in providing all material information as to potential export shipments of this kind so that interceptions can be one timely done in Davao, Manila or at any place. The said offices will, likewise, collaborate as to intelligence gathering, physical and X-ray inspection and other speedy detections.

The seized package shall be now 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), and shall be turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Port of Davao District Collector, Atty. Austria said: “The Port would like to thank the DENR, the PNP Aviation Security Group and Customs NAIA’s collaborative work with us, led by District Collector, Carmelita Talusan. We will continue to closely coordinate with them to ensure that our borders are efficiently protected from potential illegal exports of endangered trees, in line with the directives of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero. Certainly, we will not tolerate these acts of illegal trade in any of our airports and seaports.”