SECTION 26. Functions.—The Department of Agriculture is authorized to establish, operate, and maintain a Regional Office in each of the administrative regions of the country. Each Regional Office shall be headed by a Regional Director, to be assisted by three (3) Assistant Regional Directors, assigned to Operations, Research, and Support Services, respectively. Each Regional Office shall have, within its administrative regions, the following duties and responsibilities:
(1) Provide efficient and effective frontline services to the people;
(2) Implement and enforce in its area the laws and policies, plans, programs, projects, rules, and regulations issued by the Department including plant and animal quarantine laws, rules and regulations;
(3) Coordinate with regional offices of other departments, offices and agencies in the region;
(4) Coordinate with local government units; and
(5) Perform such other functions as may be provided by law or assigned appropriately by the Secretary.
At the provincial level, policies, plans, programs, projects, laws, rules, and regulations of the Department shall be implemented by the Provincial Agriculture and Fisheries Officer and, at the municipal and barangay levels, by the Municipal Agriculture and Fisheries Office.
SECTION 27. Importation of Plants and Plant Products.—Subject to such special quarantine orders, rules and regulations as may be promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture upon recommendation of the Plant Quarantine Board, it is prohibited to import or introduce into the Philippines, plants, plant products, soil or packing materials of plants capable of harboring plant pests or being a source or medium of infection or infestation of plants by pests. For purposes of this Chapter, the term “plants” shall refer to living plants and any part thereof, while “plant products” shall mean products derived from plants either in their natural state or processed form.
SECTION 28. Importation of Potential Animal Pests.—The importation of certain species of animals which are liable to become agricultural crop pests and capable of causing injury to agricultural crops is hereby prohibited, except in limited quantities for justifiable purposes and upon written permission from the Regional Director concerned or other officials of the Department who may be authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture.
SECTION 29. Plants, Plant Products, and Other Materials in Transit.—Commodities mentioned under the next two preceding sections, including food provisions and ornaments on board carriers that are in transit, shall be required to get a clearance from the Plant Quarantine Officer assigned at the port concerned.
SECTION 30. Exportation of Plants and Plant Products.—The Regional Director concerned, the Plant Quarantine Officer or other officials of the Department who may be authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture shall cause the inspection and certification of all plants, plant products and other related materials for exportation, capable of harboring plant pests, if the importing country so requires.
SECTION 31. Inspection of Plants, Plant Products, Potential Animal Pests, and Other Materials.—The Regional Director concerned or other officials of the Department who may be authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture shall cause the appropriate inspection of the commodities mentioned in the next four preceding sections and apply the necessary plant quarantine measures in order to attain the objectives of this Chapter.
SECTION 32. Domestic Quarantine of Plants and Plant Products.—In order to prevent and arrest the spread to other areas of injurious plant pests existing in certain localities within the Philippines, the Regional Director concerned, the Plant Quarantine Officer or other officials of the Department who may be authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture shall cause the inspection, treatment and certification of plants and plant products involved in movement from one locality to another within the country.
SECTION 33. Appointment of Plant Quarantine Officers.—The Secretary shall, upon recommendation of the Regional Director concerned and in consultation with the Director of Plant Industry, appoint Plant Quarantine Officers to act as his representatives in implementing and enforcing the provisions of this Chapter.
SECTION 34. Powers and Duties of Plant Quarantine Officers.—The Plant Quarantine Officers shall have authority to:
(1) Inspect all carriers, passengers, crew, luggage and incoming mails to determine the presence of plants, plant products and other materials capable of harboring plant pests as well as potential animal pests;
(2) Enter into and inspect any and all areas where plants, plant products and other materials capable of harboring plant pests are landed, stored or grown;
(3) Examine imported plants, plant products, and other materials capable of harboring plant pests as well as potential animal pests and administer necessary measures to insure effective implementation of the provisions of this Chapter;
(4) Inspect, administer treatment and certify plants, plant products and other related materials intended for export, if the importing country so requires;
(5) Confiscate and destroy or refuse entry of plants, plant products and potential animal pests involved in prohibited importations and deny inspection, certification or clearance of the same; and
(6) Perform such other related duties as may be provided by law.
SECTION 35. Non-Liability Clause.—(1) All charges for storage, demurrage, cartage, labor and delays incident to inspection, cost of disinfection or disinfestation and other post-entry requirements shall be paid by the importer or exporter as the case may be.
(2) The Regional Director and the authorized officials of the Department shall not be held liable for damages to the commodity in the course of the implementation of the provisions of this Chapter.
SECTION 36. Duties of Importer and Exporter.—The importers, exporters, or their authorized representatives shall submit a declaration to the Regional Director concerned or other authorized officials of the Department, at or before the time of entry or embarkation, of plants and plant products for importation or exportation. Such declaration shall indicate the name and address of the consignor or consignee, the purpose, nature and quantity of plants and plant products, the country or locality where the same was grown, place and date of unloading or embarkation and the registered name of the carrier carrying the consignment.
SECTION 37. Entrance and Clearance of Carrier.—(1) The owner, operator, agent or master of carriers plying international or domestic routes are hereby required to serve notice of arrival and departure and to provide inward and outward cargo manifests and other declarations of said carriers to the Plant Quarantine Officer at the post. Prior to departure, the agent or master of said carrier must secure a clearance from the Plant Quarantine Officer thereat.
(2) The Collector of Customs or his authorized agents shall require the owner, agent or master of carrier to submit a copy of the certificate of plant quarantine clearance as a pre-requisite to the issuance of the customs clearance.
SECTION 38. Collection of Fees.—(1) The Regional Director concerned shall, with the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture, promulgate rules and regulations governing the collection of regulatory fees for inspection, certification, import permits, commodity treatment and others, on commodities described in this Chapter which shall constitute the revolving fund of the national plant quarantine service.
(2) Importations and exportations of all government departments or agencies and government-owned or controlled corporations, and donations to and for the account of any duly registered relief organization or any charitable institution certified by the Department of Social Services and Welfare, embassies of foreign governments, and those that may be declared by the President, upon the recommendation of the National Economic and Development Authority in the interest of economic development, are exempt from payment of the fees herein prescribed excluding, however, the expense incurred in commodity treatment.
SECTION 39. Overtime Services.—The services of Plant Quarantine Officers, fumigators and helpers performed outside office hours and reimbursement of meal, transportation, lodging and other incidental expenses shall be chargeable to the party or parties served at the rates to be prescribed by the Secretary of Agriculture upon recommendation of the Regional Director concerned.
SECTION 40. Cooperating Agencies.—The Secretary of Agriculture may call upon the other government agencies in the implementation of plant quarantine regulations, and dissemination of information to the general public.
SECTION 41. Special Quarantine Orders, Rules and Regulations.—Special quarantine orders, rules and regulations shall be promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture upon recommendation of the Plant Quarantine Board to carry out and implement the provisions of this Chapter.
SECTION 42. Quasi-judicial Authority.—(1) The Regional Directors and the other officials of the Department who may be authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture, after proper hearing, are hereby empowered to impose administrative fines for the violation of and non-compliance with quarantine orders, rules and regulations promulgated in accordance with this Chapter.
(2) The decision of the Regional Director concerned and those of the other authorized officials of the Department under this section are appealable to the Secretary of Agriculture whose decision shall be final.
SECTION 43. Plant Quarantine Board.—For the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Chapter, there shall be a Plant Quarantine Board which shall be composed of the Undersecretary of Agriculture for Regional Operations as Chairman; the Director of Plant Industry, as Vice-Chairman; and the following members: the Commissioner of Customs, the General Manager of the Philippine Ports Authority, the Director of Quarantine, the Director of Animal Industry, the Postmaster General, the Administrator of the Philippine Coconut Authority, the Director of Forest Development or their representatives, the Chief of the Department Legal Service, the Chief of the Plant Quarantine Section and the Chief of the Crop Protection Division of the Bureau of Plant Industry, and a representative each from the National Economic and Development Authority, the Central Bank of the Philippines, and the Importers’ and Exporters’ Confederation, as members.
SECTION 44. Duties of the Board.—The Plant Quarantine Board shall act as the advisory body to assist the Secretary in formulating orders, rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the provisions of this Chapter.
SECTION 45. Board Meeting.—The Board shall meet once every quarter or may call special meetings when necessary, provided that such special meetings shall not be held more than four times annually.
SECTION 46. Quorum.—A majority of the members of the Board shall constitute a quorum.