PH Customs to bury seized ASF-tainted products

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2020   •   659

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs at the Manila International Container Port (BOC-MICP) on Monday said it is set to bury seized meat products that tested positive for the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus.

In a statement, the BOC said the meat products that were confiscated from a container van include boxes of dumplings, pork-chicken balls and roast chicken wings.

The container was consigned to Dynamic M Int’l Trading Inc. which arrived at the Manila North Harbor last December 11, 2019 from China and was put under an alert order for suspicion of containing misdeclared items.

The bureau said the abovementioned food items, particularly the pork-celery dumplings, indicated the presence of the ASF virus after they were subjected to examination and laboratory tests by the Veterinary Quarantine Services.

The agency noted that the seized items were not covered by any Sanitary permit from the Bureau of Animal Industry.

Agricultural items not covered by such permits may carry plant diseases and pests that can affect local agriculture.

The confiscated shipment violated the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, the BOC said.

An inter-agency team was ordered to immediately dispose of the shipment in order to prevent the spread of the ASF virus, it added.

The BOC, however, did not provide details on when and where it plans to dispose of the ASF-tainted meat products.

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600,000 doses of China’s CoronaVac to arrive in PH on Feb. 28 — Palace

Marje Pelayo   •   February 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A Palace official confirmed that the initial shipment of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is set to arrive in the Philippines soon.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, a total of 600,000 doses of CoronaVac from China’s pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech will be arriving on Sunday (February 28).

The official thanked China for its donations which will be used in the initial vaccine rollout of the government. 

Concerned officials from the national government will be welcoming the arrival of the vaccines in person on Sunday.

“Inaasahan na darating ang araw ng linggo, itong araw ng linggo pong ito ang Sinovac kaya po excited na tayong lahat,” Roque said.

“Inaasahan po at at least pinaplano natin na sasalubunin po ng mga opisyal ang pagdating ng mga bakuna,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said the vaccines serve as ‘testament’ to the two countries’ diplomatic relationship.

“It is a fine tradition between China and the Philippines to help each other in trying times. A friend in need is a friend indeed. The donation of vaccines is another testament to the solidarity as well as profound friendship and partnership between our two peoples and two countries,” he said.

With the arrival of CoronaVac supplies, the government is expected to begin the roll out of COVID-19 immunization on Monday (March 1) with medical frontliners as the among the initial priorities despite advised from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the vaccine is not advisable for individuals with high exposure to COVID-19 positive cases.

First in the line to get the COVID-19 vaccine shot will be the spokesperson of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and COVID-19 survivor, Dr. Jonas del Rosario.

“What we need is one day and we will roll out. So if it arrives on Sunday, if I’m not mistaken, we can rollout on Monday dahil excited na excited na po ang maraming kababayan natin,” Roque said.

The Palace official stressed, meanwhile, that the public should look into the positive side of vaccination regardless of which brand as long as it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as it can help address the current problems in relation to the pandemic.

But according to Dr. Garardo Legaspi, Director of UP-PGH, the initial survey among their staff revealed that about 90% of the hospital’s healthcare workers pre-registered and agreed to get a vaccine shot.

Although the survey, however, offered them Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and not the Chinese brand.

“Hindi ko masasabi kung ilan ang darating talaga. We are trying to manage the understanding of the EUA given to Sinovac kaya po siguro over the next few days, kailangan naming i-thresh out ang ibig sabihin ng fda na mas magiging very useful for our health workers to make their decision,” Legaspi explained.

The other survey, meanwhile, revealed that 75% of the staff agreed to be vaccinated regardless of brand.

“Hindi naman porket nabakunahan ng this particular vaccine na Sinovac ay walang proteksyon. Ang ibig lang sabihin, ang proteksyon niya ay hindi as high to prevent mild symptoms from occurring, which probably magiging dahilan ito para hindi makapasok ang healthcare workers sa ospital,” Legaspi noted.

“Siguro iyon ang basis ng FDA para sabihin na hindi siya ideal para sa healthcare workers dahil kahit mild symptom, hindi sila papasok pag nagkaroon sila ng mild symptom at mababawasan ang manpower sa ating ospital,” he added.

Legaspi further said that so far, all the vaccines which the FDA has granted approval — Sinovac, Pfizer and Astrazeneca— promise 100 percent protection against severe conditions related to COVID-19. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

DOF orders BOC to heighten security vs pork smuggling

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Finance (DOF) has ordered the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to heighten its security against pork smuggling .

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III wants a tighter watch over the possible misdeclaration or misclassification of pork shipments entering the country.

The order was issued after President Duterte approved in principle the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to expand the minimum access volume (MAV) allocation for pork imports.

Dominguez said some importers may misdeclare their pork shipments to avoid paying higher import duties. The current tariff on pork within the MAV is at 30 percent, while off-quota imports are taxed a higher 40 percent. 

“Edible offal (entrails) of bovine animals, such as swine, sheep and goats are taxed much lower, which some importers may declare [for their] prime pork shipments to avoid paying higher import duties,” the DOF said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero assured that the bureau has been closely monitoring the imports of meat products, including pork and chicken. AAC

P13-M worth of smuggled cigarettes, medicines seized in Parañaque ops – BOC

Robie de Guzman   •   February 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) reported it has apprehended smuggled cigarettes and medicines worth P13 million in a series of operations recently launched in Parañaque City.

The BOC said the items, allegedly smuggled from China, were confiscated in separate operations in two storage facilities located in Tambo last February 16 and 19.

The first operation yielded an estimated value of P4 Million while the subsequent operation yielded an estimated P9 Million worth of cigarettes and medicines which are suspected to be used to treat COVID-19, the bureau added.

The BOC said operations were launched by operatives from its Manila International Container Ports (MICP) Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) and Enforcement and Security Service, in coordination with the Philippine Coast Guard and the National Bureau of Investigation.

“Further investigation is underway to determine those responsible for the storage facility,” the agency said in a statement.

Charges for violation of section 1400 of Republic Act 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act may be filed against those behind the smuggled items, the BOC said.

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