MANILA – To conduct a thorough inspection of farm, fishery, and meat products, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) have agreed to establish a border control facility at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Zambales.
The DA on Wednesday bared that this development has been agreed “in principle” by both parties. However, the SBMA Board is yet to release its approval.
The facility, which the DA declared to be identified as Cold Examination Facility in Agriculture (CEFA), will be the first of the five structures planned to be put up nationwide.
The DA proposes to use a 2,000-square meter lot at the freeport zone for 25 years, renewable upon mutual agreement.
In a meeting on June 30, SBMA chairperson and CEO Atty. Wilma Eisma has assured DA Secretary William Dar that she fully supports the proposal to construct and operate the Subic CEFA.
“We thank SBMA chair and CEO Eisma for the smooth negotiations, pending approval of the SBMA Board, that will jumpstart the process of procurement. We wish the facility constructed as soon as possible,” Dar said, adding that the partnership will transform the Subic International Port into the country’s major hub for agricultural product imports.
Once operational, the Subic CEFA will be able to conduct a full and thorough inspection of containerized agricultural commodities through risk assessment, complemented by x-ray screening of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
DA assured that all farm, fishery, meat and food imports will be subjected to 100 percent sampling and laboratory testing with this development.
The planned CEFA network — with a PHP521-million fund allocation from the Office of the President — will be equipped with laboratories and manned by quarantine officers and technical staff from the DA’s Bureaus of Animal Industry (BAI), Plant Industry (BPI), and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR); and the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).
Each facility will feature controlled temperature systems that will capacitate quarantine officers to thoroughly inspect the contents of an identified high-risk containerized shipment and prevent the possible spread of hazardous biological agents, such as toxins, and radioactive elements carried by imported agricultural products.
Subic CEFA is eyed to collect at least PHP130 million in profit yearly from testing and inspection fees.
In this regard, Dar noted that the construction and opening of these facilities will bolster employment opportunities and local sufficiency.
“In all, the completion of the CEFA network will be one of the major accomplishments of the Duterte administration, as global biosecurity and quarantine protocols are put in place and strictly implemented to keep the country’s agriculture and fishery sector free from transboundary pests and diseases, and protect the health and welfare of Filipinos,” he said.
Earlier reports said that a CEFA at the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) compound at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) will be in place but negotiations are still ongoing between the DA-BAI and the Department of Transportation’s PPA.
DA also plans to put up similar CEFA in the ports of Batangas, Cebu and Davao. (PNA)