The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) and its member group Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PMFI) asked the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) to approve the construction of the First Border Inspection Facility or Agricultural Commodity Examination Area (ACEA) in Manila Port.
This, since the establishment of the country’s first ACEA, which should help prevent the entry of animal diseases in the country, has already been delayed for more than a year now.
In a joint statement, PCAFI and PMFI said PPA’s approval is crucial in terms of arresting the massive spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) into the country.
“ASF as we know comes from outside of our country. We are very strict and compliant with all protocols in our movements from within our soil. Yet we failed in the first border on what is coming into our country,” said PMFI President Roger Navarro.
“We are told there are obstacles to implement the First Border Control facility due to pending approval from the Philippine Ports Authority to give the area. So we are calling on PPA and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) to cooperate and help,” he added.
Republic Act (RA) 10611 or the Food Safety Act of 2013 requires that all imported foods shall undergo cargo inspection and clearance procedures by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Health (DOH) at the first port of entry to determine compliance with national regulations.
Since last year, agricultural lobby group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) has been asking DA to comply with this particular provision of RA 110611 to help prevent the entry of animal diseases like ASF and bird flu into the country.
However, some industry sources said the establishment of ACEA is not feasible logistics-wise, and may only incur delays in the distribution of meat products across the country as well as an increase in prices.
In 2019, the DA allotted a budget of P521.57 million for the ACEA project.