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Palace sees no link between China's barring of PHL bananas with territorial row

At least for now, Malacañang said it cannot see any connection between China’s continued refusal to allow the entry of some 1,500 containers stuffed with bananas and the month-old standoff between the Philippines and China in the Panatag Shoal. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace will let the Agriculture and Trade Departments continue talks with their counterparts on the matter before intervening, saying this is a “regulatory” issue. “From what we understand, nagsimula ito two months ago, before the Panatag [Scarborough Shoal] incident happened, so wala pa siyang connection sa gusot doon,” she said on government-run dzRB radio. She declined to answer questions on whether the Philippines will look for other markets for tourists and bananas if China’s “sanctions” amid the month-old Panatag row will continue. Valte would only say officials of the Philippine Bureau of Plant Industry are “very much aware of the situation.” “They are trying to find ways to address the concerns dahil meron silang pest na pinag-uusapan.... Pests that were supposedly found in some of the bananas from the Philippines," she said. She also assured Philippine banana growers the government is “doing [its] best to help them.” Some 1,500 containers containing Cavendish bananas were denied entry to China because of an alleged finding that fruits earlier sent by Mindanao banana growers there showed signs of disease found in coconuts. This reportedly made some Mindanao exporters feel they are being harassed. — LBG, GMA News