DA: Don’t buy smuggled vegetables
MANILA, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Tuesday advised consumers to temporarily refrain from buying vegetables as smuggled agricultural products continued to flood public markets in Metro Manila.
Dar issued the warning as lawmakers urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to investigate the proliferation of smuggled carrots in the markets that have now spanned to other items such as ginger and cabbage.
In a press briefing, Dar said consumers should refrain from buying vegetables in the meantime, adding that there was no way for the agency to determine the pesticide residue of smuggled vegetables that already escaped the hands of the Bureau of Customs.
Smuggled agricultural products do not go through quarantine inspection and may host several diseases. In fact, the first case of African swine fever in the country was said to have been caused by smuggled tainted meat from China—the same source of the smuggled carrots.
Dar said the agency had no idea yet on the volume of smuggled agricultural products that have already entered the country. He did not discount the possibility that these smuggling operations might be large in scale especially if these items arrive every day.
He added that the DA along with the inter-agency economic intelligence unit was still verifying the entity that smuggled these items.
“In due time, we’ll give [the names] out,” he said.
Farmer groups such as the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura and the Federation of Free Farmers have lobbied for the construction of first border inspection facilities at the country’s major ports.
This project, approved in 2020, has already gotten funds from the Office of the President, but according to Dar, construction was being hampered by bureaucratic and technical issues. INQ