LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Rep. Eric Yap said that the recent pronouncement of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. giving a stern warning against agriculture smuggling during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) has brought hope to the province’s agriculture sector that the unabated entry of smuggled agricultural crops in the country will be addressed the soonest.
He claimed that the President’s strong statement against the smuggling of agricultural crops is now a national policy but there is no clear details on how many days or months will be given to the smugglers to shape up or ship out to put an end to the sufferings of farmers who had been affected by the unabated entry of crops that directly compete with locally produced ones.
“If the President says so, I trust that the days of the smugglers had hoarders are numbered and that the end to smuggling and hoarding will be coming soonest,” Congressman Yap stressed.
The lawmaker explained that as legislators, their job is to come up with laws that will make this happen. In fact, on the first day of Congress last year, we filed House Bill 319 which will effectively increase the penalty for large-scale agricultural smuggling along with other similar bills that we filed for the advancement of the agriculture sector in Benguet,” Yap stressed.
However, he admitted that agriculture smuggling is just part of a bigger problem because concerned agriculture stakeholders need more functioning food storage facilities that the farmers could use that is why he is currently drafting measures mandating the put up of sufficient cold storage facilities in various strategic locations in the province.
“We also need to continue improving and providing accessibility through the construction of more farm to market roads and we will continue to strive for more funding from the national government for more roads in remote farming areas in our province,” he added.
According to him, as a safety net, he will file a bill that will create and institutionalize the countryside development fund that will ensure regular and sufficient funding for the construction of farm to market roads annually in all agricultural provinces in the country.
Congressman Yap lauded President Marcos, Jr. for putting premium on the government’s effort against agricultural smuggling because concerned agriculture industry stakeholders need his support on the said endeavor and that they need the said strong words to come out from him which it did.
The congressman asserted that it is now his prayer that the implementing agencies will walk the talk to really put an end to the proliferation of agriculture smuggling so that the days of smugglers and hoarders of agricultural crops will now be counted and limited.
Benguet serves as the country’s Salad Bowl because it is the source of more than 80 percent of the semi-temperate vegetables being sold in the different markets around the archipelago over the past several years.
Earlier, the President lamented the proliferation of agriculture smuggling and the hoarding of agricultural crops which are being initiated by smugglers and hoarders where he gave a stern warning that their days are counted and that there should be a stop to their illegal activities to avoid affecting the sustainable growth of the country’s agriculture sector that is providing Filipinos with food on the table.