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Trader charged for milk imports without permit

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol June 27,2015 - 12:13 PM

A businesswoman from San Fernando town, south Cebu is facing trial for importing P15 million worth of milk products from Malaysia to Cebu City without securing the necessary permit from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

The Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted Mari Toni Zapanta, a sole proprietor engaged in trading under the business name Zinot Enterprises, for allegedly violating Republic Act 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009.

Charges were filed against Zapanta before the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City last Tuesday which stemmed from a complaint filed by the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

According to the BOC, a shipment of milk products with a retail value of P15 million arrived at the Port of Cebu from Malaysia on June 25, 2012.

The imported items were consigned to Zinot Enterprises which is owned by Zapanta.

Upon examination of the items, the BOC found out that the shipment consisted of “Doreen” evaporated milk and “Daisy” condensed milk.

After over a month, the district collector of the Port of Cebu issued a Warrant of Seizure and Detention of the subject importation since Zapanta had no license to operate from the FDA as required under the law.

The BOC then filed a complaint against Zapanta and Zigfried Duterte, the customs broker hired by the businesswoman.

In her counter-affidavit, Zapanta admitted that she hasn’t secured any license to operate from the FDA for her to import the subject milk products.

She said she was new in the business and was not aware that she had to secure the license from the FDA.

Although her failure to secure the FDA license may be subject to administrative sanctions, Zapanta said it does not make the importation unlawful as the imported milk products were not “adulterated, misbranded, or hazardous” to the health of consumers.

Zapanta said there was also no fraudulent declaration in the import documents and in the entries relating to the imported items.

Senior Asssistant State Prosecutor Edwin Dayog found no probable cause to charge Duterte who was simply hired by Zapanta to facilitate the processing and release of the shipment.

Dayog, however, deemed it proper to indict Zapanta even if the milk products were safe for human consumption.

“The fact that the milk products are not adulterated, misbranded, or hazardous to health of the consumers does not dispense with license requirement of the law,” the prosecutor said.

“The respondent had no license to operate from the FDA at the time she caused the importation of the subject milk products.

The importation of the subject milk products is therefore prohibited and is penalized by law,” he added.

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TAGS: BOC, Bureau of Customs, Cebu, Cebu City, Department of Justice, DOJ, FDA, Food and Drug Administration, Regional Trial Court, RTC

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