December 6, 2022

The inter-agency task force formed to go against smuggled vegetables from China entering the country continues its crackdown against these illegal merchants affecting the temperate vegetable-growing provinces in the country such as Benguet, Mountain Province, and Ifugao.

Benguet legislative caretaker Eric Yap said he is in constant coordination with Customs Commissioner Rey Guerrero, who personally supervises the raid against smuggled products in various ports in the country.

Lagi tayong nakikipag-communicate kay Commissioner Guerrero para mapilitan silang tuloy-tuloy na mag-raid upang sa ganoon ang mga smuggler magdalawang-isip na sila,” Yap told reporters last week.

A task force composed of the Departments of Agriculture and Trade and Industry, and Bureaus of Customs and Internal Revenue was earlier formed to investigate the unabated entry of these temperate vegetables from China that compete with locally-grown vegetables.

Yap has condemned the smuggling activities, stating there is enough supply of vegetables in the localities especially coming from Benguet that supplies 80 percent of the country’s vegetable needs.

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

On Nov. 20, the task force seized misdeclared carrots, broccoli, and other vegetables worth P70 million at the Subic Port that were allegedly smuggled from China.

In the DA report, the Subic Port received an alert on the arrival of 22 reefer containers declared as “Mantou” or Chinese steamed bun with an estimated value of P70M. 

The DA said the Bureau of Plant Industry has not issued any import permits for fresh vegetables, thus those found in the market have been misdeclared as other items.

The BPI only issued permits for frozen mixed vegetables intended for embassies and hotels.

It also issues import permits or sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances to agricultural products or produce coming into the country as a safeguard against invasive pests that brings various diseases.

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

The League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Areas Inc. earlier urged the BOC to put a stop to the illegal smuggling of imported vegetables, particularly carrots and cabbages from China.

The league said some of their buyers have reduced the volume of their orders for carrots and cabbage resulting in a drop in prices of locally-grown vegetables.

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