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MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) has allowed unaccredited cold storage warehouses (CSW) to operate despite a circular mandating accreditation before legally storing products, a House panel found out on Tuesday, September 5.
In a House hearing on Tuesday on alleged hoarding of agricultural commodities, Cavite 4th District Representative Elpidio Barzaga asked officials from the BPI and the Department of Agriculture (DA) if the allegation was true.
William Mugot, chief of Plant Product Safety Services Division under the BPI, answered in the affirmative. He did not say, however, how many unaccredited warehouses were now operating. According to its website, the BPI issued licenses to operate in 2023 to 38 companies with cold storage warehouses.
“That shows you have been remiss in your obligation,” said Barzaga.
Barzaga cited the DA Administrative Circular No. 1, series of 2021: “All frozen agriculture and fishery products need to be stored in accredited and compliant CSW.”
The BPI is one of the regulatory offices enumerated in the circular, along with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, National Meat Inspection Service, and the Bureau of Animal Industry– all attached agencies of the DA headed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Willie Ann Angsiy, director for legal services in the DA, said during the hearing that warehouses lacking accreditation were not allowed to operate based on the circular.
Cold storage warehouses extend the shelf life of perishable agricultural products. At present, traders control the limited facilities in the Philippines, affecting the livelihood of farmers and the prices of basic goods.
Recently, the House of Representatives cited in contempt a cold storage facility executive embroiled in allegations of onion hoarding for not responding to their summons.
Mugot said that they have created a list of recommendations to strengthen the circular. However, these recommendations were not mentioned during the hearing. – Rappler.com