BOC to impose stricter monitoring vs. ‘ukay-ukay’, food imports amid 2019-nCov fears

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday said it will implement stricter monitoring on the entry of imported used clothing and food products amid the rapid spread of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China and other countries.  

Under Philippine laws, the importation of secondhand clothing, locally known as ‘ukay-ukay’, is prohibited while the importation of food products should be accompanied with necessary documents from concerned government agencies like the Department of Agriculture.

“Right now, we’re very high on alert on used clothing, May premium ang ukay-ukay kasi. That’s one of the easiest ways na puwede mo ma-transmit yung sakit na yan,” BOC Assistant Commissioner Vincent Maronilla said in a press briefing at the Malacañang.

“We’re now looking at critical items na puwede mag-carry ng virus na ito. It doesn’t hurt that we be vigilant about them kasi illegal naman talaga ang pagpaparating ng ukay-ulay. Hinuhuli naman naming regularly yan pero ngayon on heightened alert kami,” he added.

Chinese health authorities reported that the emerging virus can spread from animal to person, and through human-to-human transmission.

China’s National Health Commission on Wednesday reported that the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases has reached 5,974 as the death toll rose to 132.

Maronilla said they are now coordinating with the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture to prevent the entry into the country of imported materials, such as animal products, that may carry the deadly virus.

“There could be a slowdown in the imports coming from China because these countries now like the US and the others are thinking of not just flight ban of tourist coming in but we don’t know yet how this virus is being carried,” he said.

“And if it can be carried in items that are going to be imported. very simple items. Then I think yung priority namin is yung safety ng mga kababayan natin other than yung makokolekta naming buwis,” he added. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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