December 6, 2022

The new set of officials of Benguet have vowed to continuously monitor the actions by the national government on the stoppage of smuggling of agricultural products.

Vice Gov. Ericson Felipe said one of the actions of the provincial board is to closely monitor and follow up the prosecution of those involved in smuggling.

Felipe said it is also important for the board to determine who will head the various committees, especially the committee on agriculture to determine its future actions.

He said members of the provincial board might also consider seeking an audience with the Senate or President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. just like what the previous board members did when they attended the previous Senate Committee of the Whole probe on smuggling.

Felipe also expressed support to Marcos Jr. as the concurrent head of the Department of Agriculture, hoping that corruption within the agency would be curbed.

“But we really want that there would be a continuity of the Senate hearings on smuggling so that we would not waste our time,” Felipe said. 

Gov. Melchor Diclas urged fellow officials during their turnover and oathtaking ceremony to unite in their actions in putting a stop to smuggling.

The Senate Committee of the Whole, which earlier convened to probe smuggling of agricultural products, recently submitted a list of government officials allegedly involved in smuggling.

The list was an intelligence report submitted to former Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who submitted the same list to Marcos Jr.

Among those in the list are ranking officials of the BOC, DA central office and its attached agencies such as the Bureau of Plant Industry, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and regional officials.

Farmers’ groups in the province led by the League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post have been rallying local and national officials to put a stop to smuggling of agricultural products.

Earlier this year, the group said the farmers are losing P2.5 million a day due to the lesser volume of orders of carrots from the various local market outlets, as their clients prefer to purchase smuggled agricultural products, which are bought at lower prices. – Ofelia C. Empian