Philippines to export more mangoes, pineapples to US

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2021   •   501

MANILA, Philippines — More Philippine-grown mangoes and pineapples will soon be exported to the United States, the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced.

The DA said the development comes after its Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) reached a deal during a virtual meeting held on August 12.

“Expanding the export market of Philippine pineapples and mangoes in the US and other countries will not only enhance our national economy, but more importantly, provide increased incomes to thousands of farmers and their families in pineapple- and mango-producing provinces nationwide,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement.

The recent agreement between the APHIS and BPI could dramatically increase the country’s exports of pineapples and resume shipments of mangoes to the US via additional ports of entry, he added.

The Philippines currently exports fresh pineapples to the US through Guam, Commonwealth of Marianas Island, and North Atlantic regions. From 2013 to July 15, 2021, exports amounted to only 346,190 kilograms.

The country previously exported fresh mangoes to the US, from 2005 to 2008, totaling 386,099 kilograms, all produced in Guimaras Island, the DA added.

The DA said USDA-APHIS accepted evidence that the Philippines’ main export pineapple variety is not a host to the oriental fruit fly.

The fruit pest, known scientifically as Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel), is very destructive and often finds its way into the US, sometimes triggering wide-scale eradication programs.

The Philippines may start shipping pineapples to various US markets before year-end, the DA said.

PH updates list of ‘green’ countries

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government on Friday released an updated list of countries classified under green, yellow, and red, Malacañang said.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that from October 16 to 31, passengers from Romania will be barred from entering the Philippines after it was placed under the “red” list or classified as high risk for COVID-19.

The “green” list, which is classified as low-risk based on COVID-19 incidence rate, includes the following countries:

  • Algeria
  • American Samoa
  • Bhutan
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cameroon
  • Cayman Islands
  • Chad
  • China (Mainland)
  • Comoros
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Cook Islands
  • Eritrea
  • Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
  • Gibraltar
  • Hong Kong
  • Kiribati
  • Madagascar
  • Mali
  • Marshall Islands
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Montserrat
  • Nauru
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Niger
  • Niue
  • North Korea
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Palau
  • Poland
  • Saba (Special Municipality of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
  • Saint Helena
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon
  • Samoa
  • Sierra Leone
  • Sint Eustatius
  • Solomon Islands
  • Sudan
  • Syria,
  • Taiwan
  • Tajikistan
  • Tanzania
  • Tokelau
  • Tonga
  • Turkmenistan
  • Tuvalu
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vanuatu
  • Yemen

All other countries/jurisdictions/territories not mentioned are classified as yellow list, which is classified as moderate risk for COVID-19.

The IATF said that foreign travelers from “green” countries who have completed their COVID-19 vaccination are only required to present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.

“Upon arrival, no facility-based quarantine will be further required but the passenger is enjoined to self-monitor for any symptoms until the 14th day,” the task force added.

Meanwhile, fully vaccinated Filipinos from green countries may choose between the following options:

  • Facility-based quarantine until the release of a negative RT-PCR test taken in the quarantine facility upon arrival
  • No facility-based quarantine after getting a negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours prior to departure from the country of origin but the passenger is enjoined to self-monitor for any symptoms until the 14th day.

For unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or individuals whose vaccination status cannot be independently verified, and those vaccinated but failed to comply with the test-before-travel requirements, Roque said they shall undergo a facility-based quarantine until the release of a negative RT-PCR test taken on the 5th day.

In the case of foreign nationals, they shall be required to secure hotel reservations for at least 6 days, he added.

“In the case of unvaccinated or partially vaccinated minor children traveling with their fully vaccinated parent/s or guardians, they shall be required to observe the quarantine protocols corresponding to their vaccination status,” Roque said.

“A parent/guardian shall accompany the child in the quarantine facility for the full term of the latter’s facility-based quarantine period,” he added.

On the other hand, travelers from “yellow” countries will have to undergo facility-based quarantine until the release of a negative RT-PCR test taken on the 5th day. After which, they shall be required to undergo home quarantine until their 10th day.

Foreign nationals shall be required to secure their pre-booked accommodation of at least 6 days.

For unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or individuals whose vaccination status cannot be independently verified by Philippine authorities as valid and authentic coming from the “yellow” list, they shall undergo a facility-based quarantine until the release of a negative RT-PCR test taken on the 7th day. After which, they shall be required to undergo home quarantine until their 14th day.

Foreign nationals shall be required to secure their pre-booked accommodation of at least 8 days.

Under IATF guidelines, inbound international travel of all persons, regardless of vaccination status, coming from or who have been to “red” list within the last 14 days prior to arrival to the Philippines shall not be allowed.

“Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated repatriation, non-government-initiated repatriation, and Bayanihan Flights may be allowed entry, subject to testing and quarantine protocols,” Roque said.

These protocols include the following:

  • All arriving passengers shall undergo 14-day quarantine upon arrival. The first 10 days shall be observed in a quarantine facility, with remainder to be completed under home quarantine in their respective local government units of destination.
  • RT-PCR testing shall be conducted on the 7th day. Notwithstanding a negative test result, the arriving passenger shall complete the facility-based quarantine period of 10 days.
  • The Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) shall ensure strict symptom monitoring while in the facility quarantine for 10 days.
  • All passengers merely transiting through a “red” list shall not be deemed as having come from or having been to said country/jurisdiction/territory if they stayed in the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry by its immigration authorities.
  • Upon arrival in the Philippines, passengers covered by the preceding paragraph shall comply with the existing and testing protocols.

To validate their vaccination status, overseas Filipino workers and their spouse, parent/s, and / or children traveling in the Philippines or abroad, non-OFWs vaccinated in the country or abroad, and foreigners vaccinated in the Philippines can present either of the following:

  • VaxCertPH digital vaccination certificate
  • BOQ/World Health Organization (WHO)-issued International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICV)
  • The national/state digital certificate of the foreign government where they were vaccinated, which has accepted VaxCertPH under a reciprocal agreement unless otherwise permitted by the IATF

In the case of foreigners vaccinated abroad, they can present WHO-issued ICV, or the national/state digital certificate of the foreign government which has accepted VaxCertPH under a reciprocal agreement unless otherwise permitted by the IATF, Roque said.

 

PNP chief Eleazar vows to improve operations after PH’s low ranking in world rule of law index

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar on Friday vowed to further improve the organization’s commitment to its mandate following the release of a World Justice Project (WJP) 2021 report in which the country ranked low in the world rule of law index.

The Philippines ranked 102 out of 139 countries on compliance with the rule of law, dropping three positions in global rank.

“We in the Philippine National Police take note of the report of the World Justice Project and consider this as a challenge to do more on our mandate of maintaining peace and order,” Eleazar said in a statement.

He said the PNP will also further improve its commitment to serve and protect the people, and to strengthen resolve for the Filipino people to continue to have trust and confidence in the country’s justice system.

The WJP, a global think tank, indicated in its report that the Philippines’ current rank was three places lower than its ranking in 2020. The country’s score also decreased by 2.9 percent in the current index.

The WJP said the Philippines scored an overall 0.46 for rule of law. The body’s highest score is 1 while 0 is the lowest possible score.

The index covers 139 countries and jurisdictions, and is based on national surveys of more than 138,000 households and 4,200 legal practitioners and experts to measure how the rule of law is experience and perceived around the world.

While the WJP data were only collected in three major cities in the Philippines compared to a nationwide scope done in the majority of the countries surveyed, Eleazar said that they still consider the report as “a valuable tool to review, assess and make the necessary adjustments” since Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao are appropriate representations of the peace and order situation of the country.

“Our ultimate goal for every Filipino to feel the true sense of security and justice in the country has been a work in progress, and inputs from various institutions that include the WJP are always factored in to rethink and adjust our policies to attain this objective,” he said.

“We assure our kababayan that your Philippine National Police will continuously strengthen the transparency and accountability in the police organization and tirelessly work and initiate reforms to ensure that every police officer would live up to the high ethical, moral and service standards of the Filipino people,” he added.

 

DA allots initial P822 million to aid farmers, fishers affected by ‘Maring’

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines ­– The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it has allotted an initial P822-million worth of various interventions to assist farmers and fisherfolk affected by Severe Tropical Storm Maring.

Maring caused damage to major crops, livestock, and fishery products, mostly in Northern Luzon, particularly in Regions 1, 2, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

“We will continue to provide our typhoon and flood-affected farmers and fisherfolk in Northern Luzon and other areas with immediate aid and much-needed assistance to recover and start anew after the damage and loss in their livelihood and income,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement.

Of the total P822 million assistance, the DA said that P650 million will be allotted for the provision of emergency loans to affected farmers and fishers under the SURE Calamity Loan Assistance Program through the DA-Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC).

“Each affected household can borrow P20,000, at zero interest, no collateral, and payable in 10 years,” it added.

Aside from the agricultural loan, the DA said it has also allotted P172 million under its Quick Response Fund (QRF) for the rehabilitation of affected areas in Regions 1,2, and CAR.

“These interventions are over and above the regular assistance provided by the DA to farmers and fishers affected by typhoons and other natural calamities,” it added.

The department said that the following assistance package are ready for distribution to beneficiaries:

  • Close to 169,000 bags of certified rice seeds
  • 16,600 bags of certified corn seeds
  • 1,480 kilograms of assorted vegetable seeds;
  • Drugs and biologics for livestock and poultry
  • Indemnification for affected farmers/fishers from Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC)

As of October 13, the estimated damage to agriculture has amounted to P692 million with 32,392 farmers and fisherfolk affected. Damages and losses recorded were mostly on rice (P498 million), corn (P120 million), high-value crops (P56 million), livestock and poultry (P6 million), and fisheries (P12 million).

Due to early planting and harvesting, the DA noted that about 60 percent of the wet season rice crop was already harvested.

Farmers were also advised to save their respective crops and livestock, including harvest of mature crops, draining of fields to avoid flooding, securing livestock to higher ground, and pruning of fruit trees, among other needed precautions.

As a result, more than P2.86-billion worth of rice and corn were saved, some 141,635 metric tons of rice worth P2.08 billion in Regions 1 and 2 were harvested, while corn farmers in Region 2 were able to save 55,654 MT worth P779.15 million.

 

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