Disturbing Data, Disappointing Delivery | Inquirer Business

Disturbing Data, Disappointing Delivery

Which is worse, disturbing data or a disappointing delivery system that may be made intentionally defective by unscrupulous and corrupt elements?

Disturbing Data

Below is a table that shows two sets of data. One is sourced from the United Nations Statistics Division—Commodity Statistics Database (UN-Comtrade). This shows the amount of total exports of a given commodity to our country. The other is reported by the Bureau of Customs (BoC) as our alleged total import amount of the same commodity.


We should note that the levels reported by UN-Comtrade are very close to the levels reported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and our very own National Statistics Office (NSO). On the other hand, the BoC-recorded import levels are consistently much lower than the Comtrade, IMF and NSO levels.


Last November 18, Gregorio San Diego, president of the United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA), presented the data in the table below.


PRODUCT                 BoC(kgs)    UN-COMTRADE(kgs)  DIFFERENCE


SWINE (TOTAL)64 M       106 M       US$42 M           40%



(CHINA)     35 T        656 T       US$621 T          95%

POULTRY MEAT (HK)       6,908 T     US$6,722 T        97%

186 T

This table shows that only 40 percent of the swine imports in 2010 recorded by UN-Comtrade were actually reported by the BoC. This difference can be interpreted as the smuggled amount, whether through outright smuggling or technical smuggling (e.g., misdeclaration, misclassification, etc.).

More alarming is that the smuggling rate from poultry was 95 percent from China and 97 percent from Hong Kong. This is to be expected. There is a ban for poultry imports from China and Hong Kong because of the Avian influenza and bird flu in those places.

Not only are large government revenues and jobs lost from these smuggled imports. In addition, they also constitute a serious threat to our consumers’ health and safety, especially if this contagious flu spreads to different parts of the country and kills hundreds of people.

Disappointing delivery

But what is worse than this disturbing data is the disappointing data delivery system from the poultry section of the Department of Agriculture (DA). They actually hide this information from the private sector!

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala took the commendable action of ordering his subordinates to provide this data. But according to Elias Jose Inciong, coordinator of Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 Task Force on Poultry, Livestock and Corn (AFC 2025-TFPLC), these subordinates resisted following Alcala’s orders.

Alcala ordered this report more than five months earlier on June 9, 2011, during a TFPLC meeting. But nothing was done. This is why San Diego collected this data using other sources to show Alcala that this information could have easily been given by his subordinates. There is no excuse why Alcala’s subordinates did not provide this information.


The disturbing data given is an important tool to target the apprehension of smugglers. But the disappointing delivery system in a part of DA, where unscrupulous officials probably in cahoots with smugglers continue to operate, has stopped this data from being shown.

We recommend that the people responsible for this information delivery failure be penalized and replaced. There are many good people at the DA. They should replace these officials immediately so the anti-smuggling fight can proceed, aided by accurate and timely information through a responsive delivery system.

A reminder to all is that anyone can now report any smuggling he or she observes through the joint Alyansa Agrikultura-Philippine Federation of Rural Broadcasters (AA-PFRB), which has a direct tie-up with BoC. To the credit of Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim, supported by BoC Commissioner Rozzano Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon, he has acted within 24 hours on all the AA-BFRB reports.

Please report the alleged smuggled product and location by text or phone to 0918-9302118, or e-mail [email protected].

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(The author is chairman of Agriwatch, former secretary for presidential flagship programs and projects, and former undersecretary for Agriculture, and Trade and Industry. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail [email protected].)

TAGS: Bureau of Customs, graft and corruption, imports, Philippines, poultry, Smuggling

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