Who’s smuggling carrots?
SURPRISE VISIT IN TANAUAN MARKET
CONFIRMS SMUGGLING IS THRIVING
By Manny Piñol
Tanauan City, Batangas – In the first leg of my 3-province swing for the Biyaheng Bukid, I made an alarming discovery which confirmed that in spite of government efforts, the smuggling of agricultural products is still a thriving business.
Visiting the Tanauan City Farmers Market with Mayor Antonio Halili and Party-list Cong. Rico Geron at noon yesterday, I saw boxes of carrots from China sold for P35 per kilo.
I am sure that carrots are not among the agriculture items covered by the Sanitary and PythoSanitary Permits which the Bureau of Plant Industry issues.
Immediately, I called up BPI Director Vivencio Mamaril and asked him about Carrots importation.
He told me that BPI issues import clearances for a small volume of Carrots for the use of 5-star hotels.
With what I saw, I assumed that the volume would not be small because of the presence of the Carrots from China in faraway Tanauan.
When I confronted the young Chinese trader where he got the Carrots, he said these came from importers based in Nueva Ecija.
There could only be one explanation and that is smuggling.
I assumed that there was a mis declaration on the volume of Carrots imported.
I instructed Agriculture officials to conduct an investigation.
When I will be back in Manila on Friday from Batangas, Oriental Mindoro and Romblon, I will look at the results of the investigation.
I assure our farmers that heads will roll.
If BPI officials or other Agriculture officials are involved, I will make sure they will be punished severely.
I will also meet with Customs Commissioner Nick Faeldon to work on ways to restrict and reduce smuggling operations involving agricultural products.
(Photos by Mayette Tudlas)