DA asks public to refrain from buying smuggled carrots amid probe

Published September 28, 2021, 2:50 PM

by Betheena Unite

The Department of Agriculture (DA) urged the public o refrain from buying smuggled carrots while the investigation on its proliferation in the local markets is under way.

(Photo via Pixabay)

“The best thing we can do, meanwhile, is not to buy kasi hindi natin alam yung laman ng mga (because we don’t know yet what’s inside the) vegetables in terms of pesticide residue,” DA Secretary William Dar said in a briefing Tuesday, Sept. 28.

Dar said for now, the best thing to do is to stop patronizing the smuggled vegetable to avoid possible harm it poses to consumers as they figure out the state of the vegetable spotted in Divisoria in Manila.

The Agriculture chief also disclosed that according to an economic intelligence, “the shipments came from Subic and said vegetables came from China and misdeclared as other items.”

The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) was already directed to analyze the carrots to determine its pesticide residue level.

“Once na mayroon na kaming result niyan (we have the results)–that should be anytime soon– we will advise the public na wag tangkilikin itong mga (not to patronize these) smuggled items,” Dar said.

The Agriculture secretary also bared that while the identity of the importers of the smuggled carrots and how it reached the local markets remain under verification, they are certain that these are smuggled goods.

“I call this smuggled kasi walang (because there is no) permit,” Dar said.

“So kung walang import clearance, ito ay tinatawag natin na smuggled. Kung smuggled puwedeng kumpiskahan. Dahil nakalabas na rin sa publiko ay ine-evaluate natin yung pesticide residues dun sa iba’t ibang vegetable (So if there is no import clearance, this is called smuggled. If this is smuggled, we can confiscate it. And because it has been released to the public, we are now evaluating its pesticide residues),” Dar added.

It was explained that only imported frozen, mixed, and processed vegetables are given permit by the BPI and these are usually intended for hotels and embassies.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said it is already coordinating with the DA, BPI, and the Benguet Farmers Cooperative in looking into the alleged smuggling of carrots.

It also explained that “due to the perishable nature of all agricultural shipments, the current first border inspection is limited to opening and closing of reefer containers to avoid spoilage.”

A second border inspection on seized agricultural shipments is then conducted inside the corresponding DA-accredited cold storage warehouses.

This was echoed by Dar by saying, “Ang problema sa first border wala kang facility to do that inspection so maantala masyado. Dapat may second border inspection. Kung may facility na doon na lahat (The problem with the first border is you don’t have a facility for that inspection which can cause delay. There should be a second border inspection. If there is a facility, we can do all that there.)”

On Monday, Sept. 28, the DA said that an inter-agency task force will be formed to investigate the suspected smuggled carrots spotted in Divisoria.

The task force will include the DA, BOC, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).