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Economic intel group confiscates smuggled vegetables in Divisoria Market

Author: DA Communications Group | 6 April 2022

The Sub-Task Group on Economic Intelligence (STG EI), led by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant and Industry (DA-BPI), confiscated 46 boxes of smuggled carrots and broccoli vegetables being sold at Divisoria Market along CM Recto, Divisoria, Manila on April 4, 2022.

The task group — composed of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bureau of Customs (BOC), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), and Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) — inspected more than 300 stalls, scrutinizing various boxes of vegetables and asking vendors the sources of their supply.

The operation confiscated 43 boxes of imported carrots and 3 styro boxes of imported broccoli. From the smuggled boxes of carrots, 9 were in their original boxes with marking origin: China, while the other 34 were packaged in brown boxes with no label. Meanwhile, the smuggled boxes of broccoli were confiscated from the four stalls. The team was able to identify three of the stall owners selling the smuggled carrots and broccoli and obtain copies of their IDs.

Interviews with the vendors revealed that the primary buyers of imported carrots and broccoli are Chinese nationals. It was also noted that the price of imported broccoli is P300/ kg, while local broccoli is sold at P150/ kg. However, Chinese buyers still prefer imported.

It was also noted that since the second week of November, the arrival of smuggled vegetables virtually stopped due to the relentless effort of the task group and other partner agencies to curb agricultural smuggling.

The smuggled vegetables were confiscated by DA-BPI for infringement of the Food Safety Act of 2013. The BOC is conducting further investigation for case build-up against the identified owners for violating the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016. Confiscated vegetables will be subjected to laboratory examination by the BPI.

STG EI and BOC will continue to conduct surprise inspection operations in Divisoria and other markets to prevent the proliferation of smuggled vegetables that pose serious public health hazards due to non-compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

The operation was backed by PNP SWAT and PNP Asuncion Police Station, Manila Police District. Members of media networks such as ABS-CBN, DZRH, GMA, NET 25, PTV, and other media partners were also present during the inter-agency joint inspection operation. ###

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