AGRICULTURE Secretary William D. Dar said that the Department of Agriculture (DA) will be requesting in January the release of P2-billion in funds budgeted to set up border quarantine facilities in selected ports of entry.

Yung budget, Cabinet has approved. Yung plano ready na. Sinubmit na namin sa DBM (Department of Budget and Management), so by January magre-request na kami ng release ng budget worth P2 billion, P400 million kada facility (The Cabinet has approved the budget. The plan is ready. We submitted it to the DBM, so by January we will request the release of the P2-billion budget, P400 million for each facility),” he said at a news conference held in Quezon City.

These facilities will be located at the ports of Manila, Batangas, Bataan, Cebu, and Davao, and will perform tests on all imported agricultural products, as regulated by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The secondary purpose of the quarantine facilities is to deter smuggling.

“It’s an integrated facility… it’s a multi-commodity facility where our quarantine people can do their proper work,” he said.

Two cargo containers were flagged at the Port of Manila in October which turned out to contain pork products, among others, from China, an African Swine Fever (ASF)-infected country. These were “misdeclared” as tomato paste and vermicelli.

“We do not have the facilities to store in an area para mabulatlat lahat. Ang problema naka-paloob yung mga karne as per mga nasabat na mga smuggled items. Nasa loob, nakatago (We do not have the facilities to store items where they can be fully inspected. The problem is that smuggled meat is hidden inside shipments of other goods),” he said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang