Agencies urged to continue following up smuggling cases
The only means to see to it that vegetable smugglers are prosecuted is for concerned agencies and offices to continuously follow-up on the cases filed against them, according to Benguet Rep. Eric Yap.
Yap said last week there is a need for these agencies to continue coordinating with the Bureau of Customs in the anti-smuggling operations particularly on agriculture products.
Those apprehended for smuggling are charged for economic sabotage based on Republic Act 10845 or An Act Declaring Large-Scale Smuggling of Agricultural Products as Economic Sabotage.
In May 2016, RA 10845 was signed into law declaring large-scale agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage. It aims to boost the productivity of the agricultural sector and protect Filipino farmers and agricultural enterprises from illegal traders and importers.
Yap shared there are more than P1.2 billion worth of smuggled agricultural crops seized and destroyed by the BOC and the Department of Agriculture in various anti-smuggling operations in the different ports around the country last year.
He said wrote to the BOC’s Legal Department inquiring on the status of cases filed against smugglers facing economic sabotage cases.
The League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post earlier urged agencies to put a stop to illegal smuggling, as there are still reports stating the continuing rampant entry of these smuggled vegetables.
The group claims the smuggled vegetables, particularly carrots from China, lowers the demand for locally-produced carrots from Benguet and other temperate vegetable-producing towns, which greatly affect the farmers and their families.
During the 5th Benguet Farmers’ Congress at the Benguet Sports Complex gym in Wangal, La Trinidad, Benguet, stakeholders from the highland vegetable industry shared to ranking political leaders the pressing issues affecting the industry including smuggling.
Gov. Melchor Dic-las said aside from smuggling, the farmers raised their problem on the sudden hike on the price of fertilizers following the soaring prices of diesel and gasoline.
Diclas said the provincial government is finding ways how to provide subsidies for the local farmers to cushion the effect of the price surges on fertilizers and other farming inputs. – Ofelia C. Empian