December 6, 2022

Agriculture Sec. William D. Dar has ordered the intensified and stricter implementation of the first border inspection and control procedures to ensure an optimum level of food safety on all imported food items and other agri-fishery-related products. 

“It is incumbent for all regulatory agencies and bureaus of the Department of Agriculture to implement established sanitary and phytosanitary measures, food safety standards, and other regulatory measures in conducting first border inspection and control procedures,” Dar said in DA Memorandum Order 30 signed April 29. 

“It is the duty of the State to protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness to its citizens, as well as protect them from trade malpractice and substandard or hazardous products. Thus, it is necessary for the DA to maintain a farm-to-fork food safety regulatory system that ensures a high level of food safety, promotes fair trade, and advances the global competitiveness of Philippine agri-fishery products,” he added. 

Section 12 of the Food Safety Act of 2013 provides that imported foods shall undergo cargo inspection and clearance procedures by the DA and the Department of Health at the first port of entry to determine compliance with national regulations. 

The DA and the DOH inspection must be done before the assessment for tariff and other charges by the Bureau of Customs. 

Dar said DA attached agencies and bureaus conducting first border inspection and control –the Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and Bureau of Plant Industry – should review and revise their respective strategies and methods, in accordance with the applicable laws, to ensure its smooth implementation of the fist border inspection system. 

The DA-BAI, under Section 5 of RA 3639, has the duty and regulatory powers to issue animal quarantine, inspection and sanitation, and regulation of the importation of animals, among others. 

The DA-BPI, under Section 10 of Presidential Decree 1433-1978, has the duty and power to examine imported plants, plant-based products, and other materials capable of harboring plant pests and potential animal pests, and administer necessary measures to ensure effective implementation of the provisions of the law. 

The DA-BFAR is mandated under Section 67 of the Fisheries Code of 1998 to monitor and regulate the trade of fishery and aquatic resources, particularly the examination of all fish and fishery exports and imports that may be a source or medium of fish pests or diseases and ensure the quality of the commodities to meet international standards. – Press release