MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has teamed up with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) to curb the entry of smuggled agricultural commodities to local markets.
Last Nov. 18, a composite team from DA’s Wide Field Inspectorate, Bureau of Plant Industry, PCG and PNP-CIDG seized 105 sacks of smuggled yellow onions in Divisoria, Mutya ng Pasig and Balintawak markets.
The DA said the intercepted commodities had a total weight of 744 kilos valued at P225,000. The seized onions were confiscated using proper condemnation and disposal procedures.
DA Assistant Secretary James Layug, who heads the DA Wide Field Inspectorate, said the operation is part of the combined efforts of different government agencies to protect local traders and consumers from the illegal entry of agricultural produce and safeguard food safety.
He said the agency would strengthen efforts to carry out its mandate in ensuring that the country’s food supply is safe while promoting fair trade.
According to the agency, the country has no supply of white or yellow onions since July and no importation permits have been issued for the commodity.
The Bureau of Plant Industry has been inspecting markets for the illegal trade of white or yellow onions.
Meanwhile, the government opened more Kadiwa stores at different locations in Metro Manila yesterday to bring more affordable and high-quality agricultural products closer to the public.
The Kadiwa store is a concept first implemented by Marcos’ father, the late former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., in the ’70s to help bring down the prices of agricultural commodities.
Opened yesterday were the outlets in Caloocan City (Caloocan City Hall-South); Quezon City (VMMC Kadiwa Store, ADC Kadiwa Store-DA Central Office); Parañaque City (Petron station-Bgy. San Antonio, Parañaque City Hall); Pasig City (Petron Station-San Joaquin); Mandaluyong City (Farmers Collectives, The Podium, California Gardens Plaza); Las Piñas City (Shepherd Parish Manuela Pamplona 3, Southland Estate Townhouse); Makati City (Makati City Hall) and Cainta, Rizal (Liwasang Bayan).
Last week, President Marcos led the nationwide launch of the “Kadiwa ng Pasko” project aimed at helping thousands of farmers and fisherfolk by providing them additional profits as well as local consumers amid rising prices of basic commodities.
Consumers can buy rice at P25 per kilo while sugar is at P70 per kilo at Kadiwa stores.
Fourteen sites were opened simultaneously across the country during the nationwide launch on Nov. 16, including 11 in the National Capital Region, one in Tacloban City, one in Davao de Oro and one in Koronadal City, South Cotabato.
At least 28 Kadiwa ng Pasko sites will be opened across the country on Nov. 29, the Office of the Press Secretary said.
Marcos earlier said the government is getting closer to its dream of bringing down the price of rice to P20 a kilo, one of the promises he made during the presidential campaign. – Helen Flores