Benguet lawmaker Eric Go Yap is pushing for members of the Congress to continue probing the illegal entry of imported vegetables in the country while seeking to impose higher penalties for large-scale agricultural smuggling.
Yap with Davao City 1st District representative Paolo Duterte in House Resolution No. 108, urged members of 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 and regulations.
The solon said 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 and farmers have been seeking the help of the national government to curb smuggling, particularly from China, which has been going on since 2007.
Based on data from the Bureau of Customs (BOC), 100 kilograms of imported carrots and 90 kilograms of ginger from China being sold in Divisoria and Tondo were seized in April while 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 to P49 million worth of pork and poultry products in June, also this year.
The Department of Agriculture estimated that P667.5 million worth of agri-fisheries goods were smuggled between 2019 and 2022 with only P10 million being seized, while the BOC also conducted 542 seizure cases involving P1.99 billion worth of agricultural products since 20191.
In June 2022, the Senate Committee of the Whole report showed a list of individuals, including several Customs and Agriculture officials allegedly involved in agricultural smuggling, were submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., meanwhile issued a warning that the government will go after individuals involved in agricultural smuggling.
Yap added it is imperative for the concerned agencies to ensure that the cases being filed against identified consignees of the smuggled agricultural crops are air tight to qualify as economic sabotage for them to face the consequences of their illegal activities that tend to impact on the established sources of livelihood of our farmers.
Meanwhile, under House Bill 319, both Yap and Duterte are seeking to amend Republic Act no. 10845, otherwise known as the ‘Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.’
The bill is pushing for the increased penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of twice the fair value of the smuggled agricultural product and the aggregate amount of the taxes, duties and other charges avoided plus interest at the prevailing legal rate against any individuals who commits smuggling.
Dummy corporations, non-government organizations, associations, cooperatives, or single proprietorships who knowingly sell, lend, lease, assign, consent or allow the unauthorized use of their import permits for purposes of smuggling will also be given the penalty of imprisonment of not less than 17 years but not more than 20 years, and a fine of twice the fair value of the smuggled agricultural product and the aggregate amount of the taxes, duties and other charges avoided plus interest at the prevailing legal rate if found guilty.