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DA warns public against smuggled vegetables, orders confiscation of items

The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday cautioned the public not to buy smuggled vegetables due to the possible pesticide residue, as it ordered the confiscation of all shipments that entered the country without the necessary permits.

According to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) is now analyzing vegetables supposedly smuggled into the country from China.

“The best thing we can do meanwhile is not to buy kasi hindi natin alam ‘yung laman ng (because we do not know the contents of these) vegetables in terms of pesticide residue,” he told reporters during a virtual briefing.

The BPI has yet to issue any license to import carrots, cabbages, and ginger for markets in the country, as Dar said the unit only issues permits on frozen and processed vegetables intended for embassies and hotels.

Farmers in Benguet have already alerted the DA and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) regarding the smuggled carrots, which have reportedly flooded markets and continue to compete with the local variety at cheaper prices.

Dar did not give an approximate on the volume of the smuggled vegetables, as he said these did not go through the proper channels and thus would be difficult to estimate.

The Agriculture chief noted that while some of the imported vegetables could be distinguished by appearance, the most definitive way to determine is through testing.

Dar has since ordered the BPI to analyze the shipments for pesticide residue, and warned the public that the imported shipments could contain residue unfit for public consumption.

“We will advise the public na ‘wag tangkilikin ito, itong mga (not to partronize these) smuggled items,” he said.

Dar also mandated the BPI to confiscate all the vegetables found to be smuggled, but BPI director George Culaste said this may prove to be difficult.

“‘Pagka ‘yung nagbebenta na, medyo mahirap po nating kumpiskahin ‘yun kasi more on allegations. ‘Yung nagpapalusot supposedly, ‘yun ang huhulihin natin at the time na pinapalusot nila, huhulihin talaga natin ‘yan,” he said during the same briefing.

(When the items are already being sold, it would be quite difficult to confiscate because that would be more on allegations. Those supposedly involved in the illegal entry of these products, we will go after them.)

Culaste said the BPI is also coordinating with the Bureau of Customs to go after the misdeclared goods that did not pass through the proper inspection, as well as shipments suspected to contain smuggled agricultural items.—AOL, GMA News