CRITERIA FOR OFFICIAL ACCREDITATION
The following are the criteria for official accreditation:
1.1 Must be a duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as legal entity in the Philippines;
1.2 Must have a head office in the Philippines and, preferably, at least one (1) satellite office located in Luzon, Visayas or Mindanao;
1.3 Must comply with provisions of PNS relevant to organic agriculture; and
1.4 Must be accredited to ISO/IEC 17065:2012 with the scope of Organic Agriculture.
PROCEDURES FOR OFFICIAL ACCREDITATION OF OCB
A. The following outlines the various stages of the accreditation process.
1.1 Submission of Requirements. The OCB shall submit the duly accomplished form (BAFS-AS-001) and its corresponding attachments. In case the applicant has no accreditation to ISO/IEC 17065:2012, the DA-BAFS shall officially endorse the submitted requirements to the DTI-PAB.
1.2 Application Review. The Accreditation Section of the Organic Agriculture Division of DA-BAFS shall initially review the submitted documents. The DA-BAFS and at least one (1) member of the NCOA-OCB shall validate the review of application done by DA-BAFS Accreditation Section. This includes validation of submitted ISO/IEC 17065:2012 accreditation certificate and the physical presence of the applicant’s declared office/s.
1.3 Assessment (Witness Audits). The DA-BAFS shall carry out the Witness Audits to determine the compliance with the official accreditation criteria. However, for cases where the applicant has applied for accreditation to ISO/IEC 17065:2012 to DTI-PAB, the DTI-PAB and the DA-BAFS shall jointly conduct witness audits. Otherwise, DA-BAFS shall conduct separate witness audits aside from those conducted by their Accreditation Body for ISO.
1.4 Evaluation of the Assessment Report. The witness audit report shall be endorsed to the OAEP for review and evaluation and then submit to the NCOA-OCB and DA-BAFS Director for approval or denial of official accreditation.
1.5 Approval of the Official Accreditation. The DA-BAFS Director shall issue the Official Accreditation Certificate to the OCB.
1.6 Surveillance. When officially accredited, the OCB shall be subjected to surveillance assessments to ensure the OCB’s continued compliance with the terms and conditions of the Official Accreditation Certificate. This is done every year after the grant of Official Accreditation.
B. Application for Official Accreditation is made by accomplishing Form BAFS-AS-F-001, written in English and in triplicate copies. Together with the said form, the applicant body shall submit the following:
2.1 Organizational Profile;
2.2 Certified True Copy of the SEC Certificate of Registration together with the Articles of Incorporation;
2.3 Certified True Copy of General Information Sheet (GIS) by the SEC;
2.4 Certified True Copy of ISO/IEC 17065:2012 Accreditation Certificate;
2.5 Copy of Quality Manual including Internal Standards on Organic Agriculture;
2.6 Certified True Copy of Audited financial statements duly stamped as received by the BIR for the latest 3 consecutive years, if applicable;
2.7 List of Inspectors with their approved scope/s;
2.8 List of certified organic operators for PNS for organic agriculture;
2.9 If applicable, list of certified organic operators for other organic standards; and
2.10 For international OCB, equivalence assessment of the private standards against the PNS-OA (guidance manual for using the equivalence assessment tool is found in Annex B).
C. The applicant body shall provide declaration, manifested by an authorized signature on the application form, that it agrees to comply with all official accreditation criteria, assessment procedures including terms and conditions of the Official Accreditation Certificate.
D. The Accreditation Section of the Organic Agriculture Division of DA-BAFS shall review and evaluate if the accomplished form and the required pertinent documents are complete. Upon finding the same to be complete an Acknowledgement Receipt shall be issued. In case additional documents are needed, the Accreditation Section shall inform the applicant in writing (Notification of Incomplete Submission of Requirements) and shall require them to submit additional documents. Incomplete submission of requirements shall not be accepted.
E. The NCOA-OCB shall evaluate the submitted documents. Upon finding that the application requirements have been complied with, a Notice of Witness Audit and its schedule shall be issued to the applicant.
F. Upon the recommendation of the NCOA-OCB to proceed with the witness audit, an assessment team shall be formed. The assessment team shall be composed of personnel from the Accreditation Section and at least 2 competent members of the NCOA-OCB.
G. The team leader of the assessment team is usually the member from the NCOA-OCB. The team leader prepares a witness audit plan based on the itinerary of the applicant’s inspectors and provide a copy to the inspectors. The team leader may delegate the preparation of the witness audit plan to a team member.
H. The team composition is transmitted to the applicant for confirmation at least two (2) weeks prior to actual witness audit.
I. A new team member is nominated from the NCOA-OCB members if the applicant does not approve of any member of the assessment team on the ground of conflict of interest. Results of the audit are communicated to the applicant. If results show that some requirements of the standards are not being addressed in the quality manual or in other associated documents, the applicant shall be required to take corrective actions for a specified period of time.
J. If there are no major nonconformity reports raised, the applicant is recommended for official accreditation subject to the close-out of all the minor nonconformity reports raised.
K. When there is one or more major nonconformity reports raised, the applicant may be subjected to a follow-up visit or reassessment.
L. Recommendation for denial of official accreditation can be made if cases listed in Annex C are encountered. Denied applicant may re-apply after one (1) month from the receipt of denied status and shall follow the procedure from Step 1, except when an appeal has been filed and in-process.
M. If there are no issues nor nonconformities raised, or all nonconformities have been corrected by the applicant within the given period of time, the NCOA-OCB shall issue a Resolution recommending to the DA-BAFS Director the issuance of Official Accreditation Certificate.
DECISION-MAKING AND GRANTING OF OFFICIAL ACCREDITATION
1. After the evaluation on the compliance to the process stated in Article V, the DA-BAFS Director and the NCOA-OCB shall decide on the application for official accreditation as an OCB.
2. For OCB undergoing renewal of Official Accreditation, results of validation activities by the OAVT will also be taken into consideration for the decision making process.
3. The DA-BAFS Director shall issue an Official Accreditation Certificate to the applicant ten (10) working days after the receipt of the NCOA-OCB Resolution recommending the issuance of the Official Accreditation certificate.
4. The Certificate shall state the certification scope/s for which Official Accreditation is given and the validity of the certificate.
5. The OCB shall also sign a Statement of Agreement, which affirms that provisions of this Circular, and the responsibilities of OCB as stated in Annex D hereof. The agreement shall include the qualification that the issuance of certificates to organic operators shall be valid only for one (1) year.
SURVEILLANCE OF ORGANIC CERTIFYING BODIES
1. The DA-BAFS shall conduct witness audits for surveillance purposes with a sample size of 5% of the total number of operators of an OCB.
2. The surveillance witness audits shall cover a representative range of auditors (for crop production, livestock, processing etc.) and the different types of operators (individual or group).
3. The selection of the surveillance audits shall be done at random based on the representative sample, and based on the perceived risk.
4. In the case of reports of frauds, mislabeling and other complaints, DA-BAFS shall conduct necessary investigation including, but not limited to, witness audits and document review, depending on the nature of reported case.
CHANGE OF CERTIFICATION SCOPE OF OCB
1. If an officially accredited OCB applies for any change including, but not limited to, extension and reduction of their approved scope/s for certification, the OCB shall submit the application to the DTI-PAB or other Accreditation Body for appropriate action.
2. Decision made by the DTI-PAB or the Accreditation Body shall be considered for the approval of change by the DA-BAFS.
SUSPENSION OR REVOCATION OF OFFICIAL ACCREDITATION
1. In case of a reasonable suspicion of infringement, the DA-BAFS shall suspend the OCB and shall investigate the case in detail. If the result of the investigation proves that there has been an infringement by the OCB, the DA-BAFS shall consider adequate sanctions in accordance with the PNS requirements.
2. The official accreditation may be suspended or revoked as evaluated by the NCOA-OCB based on the grounds for penalty of noncompliances. The DA-BAFS shall publish these decisions in the DA-BAFS Official Website.
3. The period of suspension shall be up to six (6) months depending on the gravity of offense. However, failure of the officially accredited OCB to undertake appropriate corrective actions within the suspension period shall result in the revocation of the Official Accreditation Certificate.
4. The following steps shall be taken once a decision to move forward with suspension or revocation has been made:
4.1 The officially accredited OCB will receive a written notice stating that its official accreditation has been suspended or revoked. The notice will generally contain the following elements:
4.1.1 Notification that the OCB must stop using the official accreditation rights and privileges and the ‘Organic’ mark immediately.
4.1.2 Notification that the OCB has the right to pursue an appeal for reconsideration.
4.1.3 Notification that, if official accreditation lapses, in order to have official accreditation reconsidered, the applicant must complete the application process used by those seeking initial official accreditation.
4.2 In cases of revocation, the DA-BAFS shall remove the OCB’s name from all the published list of officially accredited OCB and shall immediately terminate the Statement of Agreement between the DA-BAFS and the OCB.