DA and Customs Bureau to look into 12 tonnes of seized smuggled meat from China

File photo of a meat stall at a public market that passed inspection <I>Photo: George Calvelo / ABS-CBN News</I>
File photo of a meat stall at a public market that passed inspection Photo: George Calvelo / ABS-CBN News

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) today said that they will be investigating 12,000 kilos of illegally imported meat from China that was seized in Navotas City in Manila earlier this week.

At least 1,054 boxes of frozen pork, chicken, and peking duck were seized by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) in a warehouse on Wednesday night along Kalakal Street in San Rafael Village, The Philippine Star reports. The owner of the warehouse will face charges for violating the country’s Meat Inspection Code. Pork and poultry products from China are still banned by the DA from entering the country due to threats of bird flu and African Swine Fever (ASF).

Read: Smuggled pork from China caused African Swine Flu, Agriculture Department says

According to NMIS Executive Director Jean Bacayo, the meat products did not have permits from either the Bureau of Animal Industry or the Department of Agriculture, and the shipment also didn’t pass through an inspection by quarantine officers in port customs, ABS-CBN reports.

BOC spokesperson and Assistant Commissioner Vincent Philip Maronilla told DZMM Teleradyo today that they are checking the serial number of the smuggled meat’s container van to find out which port it entered and who will be held liable.

“We will look at our process and which of our corresponding section or personnel made a mistake. But this will be a joint investigation with the Department of Agriculture,” he said. Maronilla added that the BOC lacks a cold storage facility to prevent meat from spoiling, so it is unable to fully offload and inspect frozen meats that enter the ports, which is where the DA comes in.

Nonetheless, Maronilla owned up to the possibility that corrupt officials may have just let through a red-flagged frozen meat container from China, “That is correct. If there is documentation… and there is intelligence report that it came form China, then it shouldn’t have come in. That is why we’re investigating,” Maronilla said, adding that anyone who profited from the contraband’s entry will be “prosecuted.”

He added that they are also reviewing the legitimacy of companies applying as meat importers.

Meanwhile, despite looming threats of ASF, news show “Bandila” reported yesterday that consumers continue to purchase pork for Christmas, with prices remaining the same since October. Consumer Lily Javier told the TV show that Noche Buena is “not the same without ham,” adding that the DA has said that ASF cannot be transmitted to humans.

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