Gov’t urged to fast-track border inspection facilities | Inquirer Business

Gov’t urged to fast-track border inspection facilities

By: - Reporter / @kocampoINQ
/ 04:06 AM December 09, 2020

An umbrella organization for agriculture groups is calling on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to fast-track the construction of the country’s first border inspection facility as the Bureau of Customs (BOC) continued to seize illegal agricultural shipments at the country’s ports.

The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) has been pushing for the infrastructure to stop cases of smuggling and misdeclaration of goods.

Just last week, the BOC apprehended a shipment of misdeclared frozen mackerel at the port of Cebu. The two 40-foot laden containers were declared to contain frozen squid.


Industry groups believe that many cases continue to slip through Customs inspections.


Rosendo So, Sinag chair, said the lack of inspections had led to the spread of viral animal diseases such as the African swine fever. The DA said the entry of the hog disease into the country was caused by smuggled pork from China.

“We have recommended to the DA the immediate suspension of all refrigerated and nonrefrigerated agriculture and agri-based imports until the 100-percent first border inspection can be implemented,” he said. “No 100-percent inspection at the port of first entry, no unloading of cargoes and containers.”

He added that the DA failed to provide sufficient meat inspection facilities as required under the law, particularly the “Food Safety Act.”

Currently, shipments of fresh and frozen agricultural commodities only undergo a “close open” examination at the port of entry wherein officials literally open shipping containers for a quick look and immediately close them to avoid spoilage or contamination.

Only when the shipments have been delivered to the National Meat Inspection Service are the commodities examined thoroughly.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the construction of the inspection facility remained on track. But he noted that there were “certain barriers” that have to be addressed following government requirements and procedures.


“Building a government structure in a privately operated, congested port area is not an overnight task to accomplish. The identification of a 2,000-square meter area for the ACEA (agriculture commodity examination areas) will be settled soonest,” Bureau of Animal Industry director Ronnie Domingo added. INQ

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TAGS: Business, Department of Agriculture (DA), facilities

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