Yap, Duterte seek full probe on veggie smuggling
A full probe on the unabated vegetable smuggling in the country is being sought in the Lower House following the filing of House Bill 108.
Co-authored by Benguet lawmaker Eric Go Yap and Davao City’s Paolo Duterte, the House bill is urging the house committee on agriculture and food to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the continued smuggling of agricultural products into the country despite existing laws.
The Department of Agriculture reported that 667.5 million of agri-fisheries goods were smuggled into the country from 2019 to 2022 with P10 million apprehended.
On the other hand, the Bureau of Customs (BoC) also seized P1.99 billion of agricultural products in 542 raids since 2019.
DA, BoC, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) also formed a task force in September 2021 to investigate the sudden proliferation of smuggled vegetables in the local market.
Despite their efforts, authorities, particularly the BoC raided a warehouse in Catmon, Malabon resulting in the seizure of approximately P4.72 million worth of smuggled agricultural products such as broccoli, carrots, and red onions, and in April 2022, 100 kilograms of imported carrots from China and 90 kilograms of imported ginger being sold in Divisoria and Tondo in Manila were also confiscated.
In June 2022, shipments of Danury Consumer Goods Trading and Jeroce Consumer Goods were seized at the Manila International Container Port after detecting misdeclared goods including P75 million worth of frozen duck and chicken parts and P49 million worth of pork and poultry products, respectively.
The House bill added smuggling of agricultural products has been causing, price distortion in the produce of Filipino farmers and defeats the efforts to increase farm production.
Benguet vegetable traders said smuggling from China has been going on since 2007 Despite Republic Act No. 10845, also known as the “Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016,” which provides agricultural smuggling involving sugar, corn, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, fish, and cruciferous vegetables in its raw state, or which have undergone the simple processes of preparation or preservation for the market is considered as economic sabotage with a minimum amount of P1,000,000 or rice with a minimum amount P10,000,000.
During the Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry in June 2022, a list of individuals, including several Customs and Agriculture officials allegedly involved in agricultural smuggling, has been submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman.
Meanwhile, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., during his inaugural speech issued a warning that the government will go after individuals involved in agricultural smuggling.
“It is imperative for the concerned agencies to ensure that the cases being filed against identified consignees of the smuggled agricultural crops are airtight to qualify as economic sabotage for them to face the consequences of their illegal activities that tend to impact the established sources of livelihood of our farmers,” the House bill stated. ###