MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) are in talks of establishing the country’s first of five border control facilities.
In a news release dated July 7, the DA said the establishment which will be named the Cold Examination Facility in Agriculture (CEFA) will be built at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Zambales.
The DA said it is targeting 100 percent inspection of farm, fishery, and meat products to ensure their quality, determine and confiscate erroneously declared shipments, and prevent the entry of transboundary pests and diseases.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar met with SBMA chairperson and CEO Atty. Wilma Eisma on June 30.
Dar said Eisma fully supports the proposal of the DA to construct and operate the Subic CEFA.
The DA said that once operational, “the Subic CEFA will be able to conduct full and thorough inspection of containerized agricultural commodities through risk assessment, complemented by x-ray screening of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).”
The system will subject all farm, fishery, meat, and food imports to 100% sampling and laboratory testing.
“The Subic Bay Freeport Zone is an ideal location because it is well-connected to the main Metro Manila highways,” the DA chief said.
“The CEFAs will initiate a new way of conducting first-border inspections, as well as host more thorough examinations, as you can open all arriving imports in one cold warehouse and have ample time to examine them,” he added.
Dar added that negotiations of establishing another CEFA at the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) compound at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) are still ongoing between the DA-BAI and DOTr-PPA.
The DA said that it also plans to put up similar CEFA in the ports of Batangas, Cebu, and Davao.
For the Subic CEFA, the DA proposes to use a 2,000-square meter lot at the freeport zone for 25 years, renewable upon mutual agreement.
Secretary Dar is confident that the partnership will transform the Subic International Port into the country’s major hub for agricultural product imports.
“We thank SBMA chair and CEO Eisma for the smooth negotiations, pending approval of the SBMA Board, that will jumpstart the process of procurement. We wish the facility constructed as soon as possible,” he said.