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DA to create trade facilitation group to inspect meat, poultry products

Author: DA-Admin | 28 November 2016

After recalling and validating SPS Import Clearance Certificates 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 F. Piñol 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 Piñol today, Nov. 28.

Piñol 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” SPS Import Clearance Certificates issued.

Importers, Piñol said, have nothing to fear from these twin moves to curb technical smuggling of agricultural products. As proof, he noted that the DA has re-validated 2,375 SPS Import Clearance Certificates as of last Saturday, 4PM.

“If they are legitimate and law-abiding importers, they should welcome this, because this 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. “ And most important, the safety of our consumers and the environment. To allay fears of possible spoilage of frozen products, the DA has ordered their release, requiring only an affidavit of undertaking from their importers.

Piñol said the creation of the new DA unit is based on Section 12b of the Food Safety Act of 2013 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 procedure will be conducted by the DA unit before the Bureau of Customs conducts its own assessment 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.

Piñol 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,” Piñol told reporters in a media briefing.

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

Reference: USec. Ariel T. Cayanan
Undersecretary for Operations
Contact No. (02) 2732474 local 2438

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