DA chief orders total recall of import permits for meat, poultry products

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel PiAol ordered starting Nov. 22, 2016, a total recall of all permits issued for the importation of meat and poultry products in the wake of the proliferation of recycled permits that he said are being used in the technical smuggling of such products.

A technical working group, he said, has been created to assess and handle the issuance of new permits effective upon the issuance of an order.

PiAol made the move based on a United Nations report on the volume of meat and offals imported by the country over the last few months. He also said the DA and the Bureau of Customs were alarmed by reports that companies with import permits issued under the previous Administration were caught "recycling" such permits twice or thrice to facilitate smuggling.

"We are not saying that we are stopping all importations. What we just want is to clean up the issuance of permits. As long as they are legitimate importations, hindi natin pipigilan yan. We want a uniform imposition of tariff. Ibig sabihin wala ng offal ngayon," he added.

The UN report, on the other hand, indicated that there is a tendency to declare good meat as offals resulting in a 30 percent reduction in the tariff paid by importers.

"Ibig sabihin nito may mga good meat na dine-declare na offal pagdating sa Pilipinas Now if there is a misdeclaration and they're able to succeed in bringing in these goods, malaki mawawala sa gobyerno," PiAol said.

In the same press briefing at the Department of Agriculture in Quezon City, PiAol also announced that:

- he has ordered a review of the importation of poultry products because of the coming holiday season so as to determine their source and ban those coming from countries with known bird flu virus.

- he has ordered a total ban on the importation of onions so as to protect Filipino farmers.

PiAol said that he would send a letter to the Japanese Agriculture Minister to ask for a uniform tariff of eight percent for Philippine bananas.

He said a separate letter would be sent to his Japanese counterpart to ask that the Philippines be given a share of the huge Japanese demand for avocados.

"We'd like to get a share of that huge Japanese market to the tune of P150 billion. Alam niyo we have the advantage of proximity and better climate than the traditional avocado exporting countries," PiAol emphasized.

PiAol sees Philippine agriculture to grow even further next year in the light of the opening of the China market as a result of the visit of President Duterte recently.

Source: Philippine Information Agency