34 of 400 samples of pork products tested positive of African Swine Fever – BAI

Marje Pelayo   •   July 19, 2019   •   7486

Boxes of pork items from Poland intercepted in Cebu on June 27 | Courtesy: BAI

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a number of pork products from Hong Kong and China at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in between June 19 to 28.

The items didn’t have sanitary and phytosanitary clearances from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and could have been infested by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

China is one of the 19 countries from where entry of pork and pork-based products are banned.

From a total of 400 samples that BAI examined, 34 tested positive of ASF and these products could have caused infestation in the country’s hog industry if they were not intercepted.

Germany was the latest addition to the list of countries where entry of pork products to the Philippines was banned.

Though there were no reports yet of ASF-infestation in Germany, the Philippines included it in the list after a German company exported pork products to the Philippines along with some 250 kilograms of pork from ASF-hit Poland.

The said shipment was intercepted in Cebu on June 27 which included 27 boxes of pork items from Poland.

That incident, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, was a clear violation of the country’s Quarantine Law thus resulting in the ban of pork products from Germany.

“Nakikiusap ako.(‘Im appealing to you) Please understand, these are extraordinary times. We cannot take the risk,” Secretary Piñol said.

“Kasi tingnan mo, Germany napaka-respectable na bansa nyan. It’s export country known for its high standards, nasingitan tayo, (You see Germany is a highly respected country. It’s exports are known for its high standards but some banned (pork) slip past their screening,)” he explained.

Piñol stressed that ASF infestation would compromise the country’s P260-B worth of hog industry.

Some of the Philippines’ neighboring countries have already declared an outbreak of ASF such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked store owners to self-recall pork products from China that covers those manufactured since the start of the import ban.

Still, Piñol assures the Philippines’ hog industry remains ASF free. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

P30 million worth of fake flu meds seized in warehouses in Parañaque – BOC

Robie de Guzman   •   January 12, 2022

Counterfeit of popular medicine brands worth at least P30 million were confiscated at two storage areas in Parañaque City, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.

In a statement, the BOC said an operation launched on January 5, 2022 yielded the seizure of counterfeit medicines such as Biogesic, Neozep, Bioflu, Immunpro, Ivermectin, Phenokinon F Injection, Medicol, Planax, Alaxan FR, MX3 and others.

Customs said that certification from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Unilab Pharmaceuticals, the makers of paracetamol brand Biogesic, stated that the said medicines were counterfeit.

The operation was conducted by the BOC with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Intelligence Service Armed Forces Of the Philippines (ISAFP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

“We received reports about the presence of counterfeit items. It’s not just items, but medicines. We acted on this immediately because this can pose a health threat. They are selling these to unsuspecting people whose only hope is to buy authentic medicines for themselves and their loved ones,” said Raniel Ramiro, Customs Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence Group.

The BOC said the counterfeit medicines were packed in cartons with tags bearing foreign characters. They were found in two storages at 7434B and 7434C Highland St., Marcelo Green Village and 27 Pearl St., Severina Subdivision, Km 18, Brgy. Marcelo, both in Paranaque City.

The seized items were immediately hauled to the BOC premises, though the inspection and inventory are still ongoing.

The team, composed of members of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service at the Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP), PDEA-IIS, NICA, ISAFP and the PCG, nabbed the suspect identified as Adel Rajput, a 31-year old Pakistani national, a resident of Caloocan City.

The BOC said the suspect was brought to the Paranaque City Prosecutors’ Office for an inquest.

He will face various cases for violation of Sec. 1401 (Unlawful Importation/Exportation), Sec. 1113 (Property Subject to Seizure and Forfeiture) paragraph (l) (5) in relation to Sec. 118 (Prohibited Importation and Exportation) paragraph (e) of the CMTA, and the violation of Republic Act No. 8293 (Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines and its Pertinent Rules and Regulations).

“His visa will be under a revocation process by the Bureau of Immigration,” Customs said.

Last November 24, 2021, BOC said it also confiscated fake medicines bearing names of popular brands such as Alaxan, Tuseran Forte, Propan, and Diatabs with an estimated value of P50 million from a warehouse in Pasig City.

Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero lamented how these businesses are operating during this time when the public is facing difficulties in purchasing anti-flu medicines amid the surge in COVID-19.

“It is sad how these criminals are using the pandemic for their own gain, especially when it comes to medicines. These are medicines that people thought will relieve them of their pain, their conditions. It is unforgivable that these individuals are using people’s desperation to earn money,” he said.

The Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry earlier assured that there was no shortage in supply of some medicine brands, and that pharmacies only experienced temporary stockout due to “overwhelming demand.”

China sends 20,000 relief packs to Odette-hit areas

Robie de Guzman   •   December 21, 2021

The government of China is sending food packages for those affected by Typhoon Odette in Visayas and Mindanao areas, its Embassy in Manila said Tuesday.

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy said relief packages worth P8 million pesos are on its way to areas devastated by the typhoon.

These areas include Cebu, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Cagayan de Oro City, Surigao City, and Negros Oriental.

Each package contains five kilograms of rice, 10 canned food and 10 noodles pack, it added.

“Our hearts go out to all the Filipino families who were devastated by Typhoon Odette which has caused massive casualties as well as property loss,” the statement read.

“China will do its utmost to continue its firm support to the disaster relief efforts of the Philippine government and the Filipino people. We wish all those affected could overcome the difficulties and rebuild their homes at an early date.” It added.

In addition to food packages, China also sent 4.725 million kilograms of rice to typhoon-hit areas.

The embassy said about 1.5 million kilograms were allocated for Cebu, while the 3.225 million kilograms in Manila will be transported to other areas.

“We thank the Philippine government, in particular the Department of Social Welfare and Development for their great efforts in urgently distributing these rice to those Filipino families in need,” it said.

Typhoon Odette left many casualties and a trail of destruction when it battered many parts of the Visayas and Mindanao last week.

Local authorities fear the death toll could still go up in the coming days as verification process continues.

Smuggled spiders inside mail intercepted in Pasay – BOC

Robie de Guzman   •   December 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Illegally imported spiders were seized by authorities in Pasay City, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.

In a statement released on Thursday, the BOC said the smuggled spiders were intercepted in the Central Mail Exchange Center (CMEC).

Customs said the spiders were imported from Poland and consigned to an addressee from Olongapo City.

They were concealed in a postal envelope with scraps of paper and declared as origami.

When the package was inspected through x-ray scanning and physical examination, it was found to contain 10 pieces of smuggled spiders estimated to have a value of P75,000.00.

The BOC said the claimant was arrested by its NAIA Enforcement and Security Service Environmental Protection Compliance Division for violation of Section 1401 in relation to Republic Act (RA) 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) and RA 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

The BOC said the apprehended claimant has been turned over to the Philippine National Police for inquest proceedings.

The seized spiders, on the other hand, were turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit (DENR WTMU) pursuant to Customs Administrative Order No. 10-2020, it added.

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