LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. and Benguet caretaker congressman Eric Yap challenged anti-vegetable smuggling advocates in the province to join him in pressuring concerned government agencies to curb the proliferation of smuggled vegetables in the country which is reportedly heavily impacting on the local vegetable industry.
Yap, who is an Adopted Son of Benguet and who was given by the majority of the province’s electorate to serve as District Representative in the House of Representatives in the upcoming Congress, claimed that anti-vegetable smuggling advocates who had been using the said issue against him the recently concluded elections should now join him and the provincial government in making a hard stand that will compel the agriculture department and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to stop allowing the entry of smuggled agricultural crops in the country.
He pointed out that his office and the provincial government had been doing their part in reporting the presence of smuggled agricultural crops in the country that resulted to the confiscation of multi-million worth of smuggled vegetables in various ports and markets in the country that is why it is unfair for anti-vegetable smuggling advocates to accuse him of being a smuggler and had done nothing to contain the said problem.
The neophyte lawmaker stipulated that even BOC officials had previously attested that he had been at the forefront in reporting to the bureau the presence of smuggled vegetables in some ports and markets in the country that often yield positive results when customs personnel conduct their operations and that the same has been contained in different reports that had been provided to some agencies.
Congressman Yap dared the anti-vegetable smuggling advocates to sit down with them and discuss how to unify their efforts to curb smuggling so that they will be able to send a stronger voice to the concerned agencies that something must be done to contain the proliferation of the smuggling of vegetables instead of doing character assassination that taint a bad image of the pinpointed officials in the eyes of the people.
According to him, the unabated smuggling of vegetables has been a long standing issue that had not been provided a definite solution that is why the concerned stakeholders and the government must join hands in formulating the right solution that will be enforced to help in preserving and protecting the province’s agriculture industry so that Benguet will be able to maintain its identity as the Salad Bowl of the Philippines being the producer of more than 80 percent of highland vegetables being sold in the different markets around the country.
The neophyte lawmaker revealed that if the anti-smuggling advocates are doing the said cause for the sake of the agriculture industry stakeholders, then they must be willing to join consolidated initiatives by the government to implement the appropriate solutions to the problem so that the province’s vegetable industry will remain vibrant and will continue to serve as the major source of income of hundreds of thousands of residents who have made vegetable farming as their livelihood for several decades as the same had been passed on to generations.
He said that his office and the provincial government will be awaiting the decision of the anti-vegetable smuggling advocates on whether or not to join their real cause to curb the proliferation of smuggled vegetables in the country which poses a serious threat to the sustainability of the local agriculture sector.