RELENTLESS efforts are being done to control smuggling of agricultural commodities.
This was reiterated by the Department of Agriculture (DA) saying that it is strengthening the guidelines and procedures on handling of food items that enter the country.
Recently, DA Secretary William Dar and Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero agreed to strengthen the “second border” inspections and create a technical working group (TWG) to review the 15-year-old guidelines and procedures on handling imported food items.
The TWG will help establish sanitary and phytosanitary measures, food safety standards, and other regulatory measures in conducting first/second border inspection and control procedures.
The TWG is chaired by agriculture assistant secretary for regulations Liza Battad, and co-chaired by DA assistant secretary for economic intelligence Federico Laciste, BOC deputy commissioner intelligence group Raniel Ramiro and assistant commissioner for post-clearance audit group Vincent Phillip Maronilla.
The DA disclosed that as early as May this year, the Sub-Task Group on Economic Intelligence (STG-EI) — co-chaired by DA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) — has been instrumental in some anti-smuggling efforts.
The STG-E1 had confiscated more or less 100 million-worth of smuggled agri-fishery products including suspected African Swine Fever (ASF) infected pork meat in Navotas City on May 27, 2021 (12 reefer vans) and seized smuggled red onions in the Port of Subic worth 101.5 million pesos in a series of operations conducted by STG-EI on July 8-9, 2021 (29 reefer vans).
Other anti-smuggling operations include the seizure of 5,600 cartoon boxes of mackerel misdeclared as roundscad fish in a CSW in Pulilan Bulacan on Sept. 1, 2021; and confiscation of misdeclared assorted fresh vegetables in the Port of Subic on Oct. 11, 2021 contained in five reefer vans with an estimated value of 15 million pesos.