Press Releases

Salceda says House tax committee to follow up on smuggling and misdeclaration of imported plant products; House tax chair expresses alarm over reports of misdeclared fruits in markets

December 20th, 2021

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) says that the House tax panel will resume its inquiries into plant product smuggling and misdeclaration, as Salceda expressed alarm that misdeclared imported fruits are flooding wet markets across the country.

Salceda particularly expressed alarm over a complaint by Benguet Farmers Marketing Cooperative which urged the Bureau of Plant and Industry to explain why strawberries from South Korea are flooding the wet markets of Cebu.

“In our earlier hearings on the matter, we called on the Bureau of Plant Industry to ensure that the inspection of plant imports is up to standard. They did point out that they are unable to inspect each shipment, which makes these shipments vulnerable to misdeclaration,” Salceda said.

Salceda referred to hearings by the House tax panel in February 2021, which scored the BPI for the lack of stringent mechanisms to prevent the smuggling of plant products such as fruits and vegetables.

“We requested them to craft guidelines on their work with Customs, and how we can ensure that imports are processed on time, but without misdeclaration or technical smuggling,” Salceda added.

“When session resumes after the Christmas break, we will follow up on our request and give them a deadline,” Salceda added.

“If it’s not intentional, it seems to me that the technical processes for evaluation are still lacking. For example, strawberries from Korea aren’t included in the goods allowed inside the country under the Korea-Philippine Trade Agreement under the General Agreement on Tariff Agreement-World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO). So, something’s up,” Salceda said.

In Senate hearings, the BPI claimed that the strawberry imports were for use “by the Korean community” in the country.

“That’s not a satisfactory answer. So, I want to see how the import permitting process can be streamlined so that the rules are clear.”

Salceda also emphasized that “a highly arbitrary import permits process places the country’s own domestic agriculture at risk, especially from biosafety hazards.”

“Once January session comes, we’ll give a deadline for the BPI,” Salceda concluded. (end)

Other Press Releases
Statement on the pronouncements against the Public Service Act amendments (RA 11659)
Read More
Statement on the February 2024 jobs report
Read More
Statement on the March 2024 inflation figures
Read More
The problem of access to Senior Citizen healthcare is structural, but it should be addressed alongside other issues with Senior Citizen welfare.
Read More