Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol issued the cancellation and recall to prevent the recycling of old permits as a tool of technical smuggling in the country.
During a press briefing, Piñol said: “While we encourage trade and commerce in the country, we also don’t want our farmers and the government to be at the losing end.”
He said that the festive season usually created more incidences of fraud. “This usually happens whenever Christmas season comes because of the great demand for meat and chicken. Many unscrupulous individuals are using the same permits all over again and the only way to check this is the total recall of all permits issued and we can only recall this by cancelling all permits issued.”
One of the major areas of fraud the Department of Agriculture wants to cut down on is the discrepancy in the import volumes of “good” meat versus offal.
Undersecretary for Operations Ariel T Cayanan said there were some importers who “misdeclare” their meat imports.
“You can see on the cut of the meat, where they already extend it to the leg, but still declare it as offal to lessen their tariff.”
Piñol also announced the creation of a technical working group, which will take a look at these cases, saying he wanted to revalidate the existing and non-existing importation permits from Customs.
He assured legal importers wouldn’t have to worry as long as they provided the documents needed, as they would eventually release the permit within 24 hours.
“We are not stopping legal importation, we just want to make sure that the issued permits were validated,” Piñol added.
The Department of Agriculture also proposed that importers should first be validated by the quarantine officer before they went to Customs.