DA: Imported agri-fishery commodities to undergo ‘second border’ inspection

TWO government agencies in the country will run after violators to curtail the entry of smuggled agricultural commodities and ensure an optimum level of food safety for Filipino consumers.

According to a press release, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) forged an agreement to implement a new set of measures Friday, Oct. 8, 2021 to address the concern.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar and 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.

“Our goal is to curb the entry of smuggled agri-fishery products, while ensuring consumer safety in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 10611 or the ‘Food Safety Act of 2013’ and other applicable laws,” Secretary Dar said in a statement.

To do this, the two agencies will implement an intensified and stricter second border inspection and control procedures to ensure that all imported agricultural commodities will be monitored for food safety.

The inspection will also include investigation of misdeclared goods, and violators will be penalized accordingly.

As part of the renewed and strengthened DA-BOC anti-smuggling efforts, Secretary Dar said all fresh and frozen agri-fishery cargoes will still undergo an “open-close” examination at the “first border” or port of entry, but will now be subjected to a stricter 100 percent inspection once they arrive at the designated warehouses or “second border.”

“This measure will only be temporary pending the completion of the first border facilities that will be constructed by the DA at major ports, starting in Subic, called Commodity Examination Facility for Agriculture,” Dar said.

The members of the TWG include respective heads of DA regulatory agencies — like the bureaus of plant industry, animal industry, and fisheries and aquatic resources, and National Meat Inspection Service and concerned BOC officers.

Section 12 of the Food Safety Act states that “Imported foods shall undergo cargo inspection and clearance procedures by the DA and the DOH (Department of Health) at the first port of entry to determine compliance with national regulations. This inspection by the DA and the DOH shall always take place prior to assessment for tariff and other charges by the BOC.” (JOB with PR)