THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said Monday it targets to accomplish the phytosanitary inspection of seized smuggled onions either this week or next week.
The DA said the onions needed to be inspected before making them available in Kadiwa markets.
At the Laging Handa public briefing, DA deputy spokesperson Rex Estoperez said food safety is of utmost importance for the consumers, considering these onions have been misdeclared as pastries.
“Mga PHP30 million iyan. Napakalaking halaga niyan, nagpanggap na pastries, saka ‘yung marami ho iyang mga nakumpiska na ‘yan (That’s around PHP30 million. That’s a big value. It was misdeclared as pastries. And there’s a lot that were confiscated). But these are white onions,” he said.
“Kung kailan? ‘Yung timeline natin, dapat ngayong week or next week matatapos na po ‘yung inspection… Kung ‘yan po ay papayagan natin, kung safe po, ang importante safe tayo (As to when, the inspection should be finished this week or next week based on our timeline. We will find out if the shipment will be allowed and is safe. It is important that we’re safe),” he added.
The DA is referring to the 100,000 kilograms of white onions seized at Manila International Container Port.
ILLEGAL WHITE ONIONS
The DA, meanwhile, warned consumers that all white onions, whether sold online or in markets, are considered illegal.
“Illegal po iyan, lahat ng pumasok po na puti, iligal po iyan, kahit sa mga merkado po natin. Iligal po ‘yan kasi walang na-issue iyong Bureau of Plant Industry na importation ng sibuyas. And therefore, kung walang papeles po ‘yan, smuggled po iyan (That’s illegal. All white onions coming into the country are illegal, even if it’s sold in markets. That’s illegal because the Bureau of Plant Industry hasn’t issued any importation permit for onions, and therefore, if they are not covered by documents, that’s smuggled),” Estoperez said.
He also urged the public to immediately report to authorities the unauthorized selling of white onions in the country, whether online or in physical stores.
Moreover, the DA assured consumers that it is continuously calibrating its systems to maintain food security in the country, as targeted by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., who is also the concurrent agriculture chief.
“Ginagawa naman namin lahat kung kailangan namin ayusin, baguhin, at tingnan uli ang ating mga sistema. Gagawin po namin ‘yan para po sa kapakanan ng ating consumer. Balansehin po natin sa ating producer po (We are doing everything we need to fix, change and look into the system. We will do it for the welfare of our consumer, and balance it with the welfare of our producers),” he added.
The DA also called on traders to cease taking advantage of consumers, to help with the administration’s target, and help local producers by avoiding importation.
“For next year po, wala pa rin tayong nakikita na pagtaas ng presyo o kakulangan dahil nga tinitingnan naman namin, nakikipag-coordinate tayo sa producers at siguro as much as possible ina-avoid na natin ‘yung importation na word (we are seeing no price hike nor lack of supply, because we’re looking into, coordinating with producers, and as much as possible, avoid the word importation),” he said. Philippine News Agency