Benguet Farmers Marketing Cooperative manager Agot Balanoy has demanded an explanation from the Bureau of Plant and Industry on why South Korean strawberries are flooding Cebu markets. Balanoy claimed that the National Plant Quarantine Services Division of the BPI issued a permit to the strawberry importer on November 20, 2021, which is valid until November 20, 2024. She claimed further that the permits declared the goods to be ornamental plants.
Balanoy commented: "Thus, this is misdeclaration and misdeclaration is a form of smuggling." She said that strawberries are not among the goods allowed into the Philippines through the Korea-Philippine Trade Agreement under the General Agreement on Tariff Agreement-World Trade Organization.
According to Balanoy, people have noticed some of the high-end markets and pop-up stores in Cebu have stopped ordering from Benguet strawberry farmers. She said this will lead again to huge income losses to farmers like what has been happening vegetable farmers and traders who have to compete with vegetables smuggled into the country. Therefore, Balanoy urged the government to recall or cancel the permit allowing the entry of Korean strawberries.