SOME 20 units of X-ray machines will soon be installed in all international airports to thoroughly check agricultural products, especially meat, brought in by passengers.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the use of the DA’s Quick Reaction Fund (QRF) for the emergency procurement of the equipment.
Piñol said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, head of the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) Committee, endorsed the DA proposal citing the need for the country to protect its borders from plant and animal diseases, notably the African Swine Fever which is devastating the hog industry of many countries.
He added that Dominguez also approved the installation of the meat and agri X-ray machines in the Customs area of all airports so that all hand-carried and checked-in baggage of incoming passengers, especially those coming from African Swine Fever (ASF)-affected countries, could be checked.
Under the Philippine Quarantine Laws, the entry of meat, fisheries and horticulture products including planting materials are prohibited if these are not covered by Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Permits issued by both the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).
Piñol added that they proposed a total of P130 million from the QRF will be utilized for the immediate purchase of the X-ray equipment and the implementation of additional safeguards against the entry of agricultural products through the airports.
He pointed out that the country’s quarantine measures should be stricter to prevent the entry of animal diseases, like the devastating ASF.
Piñol reported that the DA-BAI recently confiscated canned goods at the Clark International Airport which when tested by the Virulogy Division of the BAI contained genetic materials of the ASF virus.
The DA-BAI also has already deployed sniffing dogs in the major airports as a deterrent.
He added that the DA will be implementing stringent quarantine measures comparable to those of advanced agricultural countries like Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the US.