Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol stood pat on his decision to cancel all importation permits for meat and plant products despite warnings by several importers that the order will jack up prices during the holidays.
Piñol said he will sign an order requiring all food imports, including staple grains like wheat, rice and corn, subjected to mandatory cargo inspection and clearance procedures before undergoing assessment by Customs personnel.
“Even with all the efforts of the government now, smuggling is still going on,” he told reporters on Monday.
“Today, I will sign a department order creating the Agricultural and Fisheries Trade Facilitation Unit which will effectively be stationed in the different ports of entry of the country to make sure that agricultural and fisheries exports are first examined by our people before Customs,” he added.
Piñol said the Departments of Agriculture and Health have the authority to inspect and clear for release at the first port of entry all food imports prior to customs assessment.
“Shipments not complying with national regulations shall be disposed according to policies established by the DA and the DOH,” Piñol said.
“With this, we now have a control mechanism against possible technical smuggling of agricultural and food products,” he added.
Piñol said even imported rice and corn, which are traditionally being handled by the National Food Authority, will be subject to scrutiny by DA personnel.