February 24, 2024

An inter-agency task force was formed to investigate the entry of smuggled vegetables from China that have flooded markets in Metro Manila and other provinces recently.

Agriculture Sec. William Dar, during a recent press briefing, said the task force composed of the DA, Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Customs, and Bureau of Internal Revenue will investigate the scale of importation that threatens the local vegetable industry.

The Bureau of Plant Industry has not issued any import permit for fresh vegetables, thus those that are found in the market have been misdeclared as “other items.”

Dar said the BPI only issued permits for frozen mixed vegetables intended for embassies and hotels.

“The best thing we can do is not to buy these imported vegetables because hindi natin alam ang laman ng mga vegetables in terms of pesticide residue,” Dar said.

The BPI issues import permit or sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances to agricultural products or produce coming in to the country as a safeguard against invasive pests that brings various diseases.

An example was the entry of smuggled pork from China, which was traced to be the cause of the African swine fever cases in the country.

Earlier, the League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Areas Inc. has called on the BOC to stop the smuggling of carrots and cabbages from China.

Due to the presence of smuggled vegetables which are sold at cheaper prices, the league said some of their buyers who used to purchase two to three tons of cabbage and eight tons of carrots daily are now purchasing 200 kilos only.

The league received reports from their members that at least four container vans of smuggled carrots are delivered weekly at the Carbon Market in Cebu and being distributed to various markets.

Benguet legislative caretaker Eric Yap said he will file a resolution asking concerned offices to investigate the entry of smuggled vegetables.

Yap condemned the smuggling stating there is enough supply of vegetables in the locality especially coming from Benguet, Mountain Province, and Ifugao.

Benguet supplies 80 percent of the country’s vegetable needs.

“This is very alarming and I call on our consumers to do the right thing and support and buy our local produce – that is our moral obligation,” Yap said.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan also forwarded a resolution directing the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform to inquire, in aid of legislation, on the proliferation of smuggled Chinese vegetables in the market. – Ofelia C. Empian