Beyond Buzzwords: Transforming Philippine Agriculture!

DA tightens noose on technical smuggling of meat, poultry products

Author: DA-Admin | 28 November 2016

After recalling and validating import permits for meat and poultry products, the Department of Agriculture is making it harder for smugglers by creating an Agriculture and Fisheries Trade Facilitation Unit that will allow it to directly inspect imports at the Bureau of Customs to ensure they comply with the law.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said the newly created group will be stationed in different points of entry or Customs zones in the country to lessen the possibility of smuggling, which has been the bane of local growers and producers.

The department order was to be signed by Pinol today, Nov. 28.

Pinol made the announcement as he assured the public that there will be adequate meat and poultry supply in the market despite the apparent restrictions imposed by the DA on importers because of the discovery of the unscrupulous practice of some importers to “recycle” old import permits issued by the past Administration so they could bring in more than the volume of meat and poultry they are allowed to bring into the country.

Pinol had earlier issued a total recall of importation permits as part of its effort to curb technical smuggling. As of Friday, Nov. 25, the DA has processed and validated 1,700 permits.

Importers, Pinol said, has nothing to fear from his twin moves to curb technical smuggling of agricultural products. As proof, he noted that the DA has re-validated 1,770 import permits as of last Friday, or more than half of the import permits issued by the previous Administration.

“If they’re legitimate and law-abiding importers, they should be happy, because it would actually cleanse their ranks,” he said.

“We have to do this to protect the interest of government which is being deprived of the appropriate tariffs from smugglers.”

Pinol said the creation of the new DA unit that will inspect all meat and poultry imports is based on Section 12b of the Food Safety Act which states that imported foods shall undergo cargo inspection and clearance procedures by the DA and the DOH at the first port of entry to determine compliance with national regulations. He said this inspection will be conducted by the DA unit of all imported meat and poultry products before the Customs bureau conducts its own inspections of these shipments.

“This inspection by the DA and the DOH shall always take place prior to the assessment for tariff and other charges by the Bureau of Customs,” according to the Act.

Pinol has tapped Mike Laurel, a former police general, to head the AFTFU which will also be composed of representatives from the Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, National Meat Inspection Service, and Bureau of Plant Industry, and the Philippine National Police, among others.

To allay fears of possible spoilage of frozen products, the DA has ordered their release, requiring only an affidavit of undertaking from their importers.

Amid complaints that there is too much bureaucracy in the revalidation of permits, Pinol assured importers that there is no hanky panky involved.

“Sinusunod lang natin ang batas dito. There are no ulterior motives here as some would like to suggest,” Pinol told reporters in a media briefing.

“Hanapan niyo ako ng butas. Pag meron kayong nakita, magreresign agad ako,” he added. (DA-OSEC)

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