By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Imee Marcos will call for an investigation of
possible economic sabotage in the “untimely and excessive” importation
of vegetables from China while local produce from Benguet and other
Cordillera farms continue to rot.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, is
preparing to file a Senate resolution to ferret out vegetable
importers and officials in the Department of Agriculture (DA) and
Bureau of Customs (BoC) involved in agricultural smuggling.
“Wala tayong kadala-dala, nangyari na ito nung 2020, at nabigyan na
ang DA ng Kadiwa trucks, tauhan at pambili ng gulay at baboy. Bakit
ayaw pa rin ng DA bumili sa Pilipino? Bakit puro imported ang
pinapaboran nila? Totoo nga bang nagpalit na sila ng pangalan sa
Department of Importation, imbes na Agriculture?” Marcos said.
(We still haven’t learned our lesson, this already happened in 2020,
and DA was already given Kadiwa trucks, manpower, and the budget to
buy vegetables and pork. Why does the DA still refuse to buy Filipino?
Why do they favor imported goods? Is it true they’ve already changed
their name to Department of Importation, instead of Agriculture?)
“Bugbog na ang mga local farmers sa pandemya at sa utang, hindi pa
nabibili ang kanilang mga ani. Nabubulok at itinatapon na lang ang mga
gulay na dapat sana mapakinabangan sa Metro Manila, kung naagapan lang
ng DA,” Marcos added.
(Local farmers have been battered by the pandemic and by debt while
their harvests have been left unsold. Their vegetables would not have
been left to rot and discarded and could have benefited Metro Manila,
if only the DA were more proactive.)
The smuggling of agricultural products is a form of economic sabotage
and is punishable under the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016,
or Republic Act 10845, Marcos pointed out.
As local farmers bewailed the dearth of buyers and quarantine
restrictions turning fewer deliveries into spoiled goods, the BoC
confiscated some Php4.7 million worth of imported cabbage, carrots,
broccoli and other vegetables during a raid Thursday in Divisoria and
other parts of Tondo, Manila.
Meanwhile, at least eight metric tons of tomatoes from Ifugao have
also been dumped, sold at a loss to hog and duck raisers, or plowed
back into farms because of the DA’s “lack of foresight,” Marcos said.
“Kailangan kumain ng maraming lokal na gulay ang DA at walang
kasusta-sustansiya ang pamamalakad nito. Bakit hindi tuloy-tuloy ang
pag-andar ng mga Kadiwa centers at ginagawang panakip-butas lang pag
andyan na ang problema?” Marcos said.
(The DA needs to eat more local vegetables as its management remains
sluggish. Why are the Kadiwa centers not running continuously and only
used as a stopgap measure when the problem is already there?),” Marcos
“Protecting our local farmers is the solution to long-term national
food security, not the importation of agricultural produce, legal as
that may be,” Marcos added. (ai/mtvn)