By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Tuesday
said that apart from the ongoing pandemic, smuggling of agricultural products
is a big blow to the income of the country’s farmers and fishermen.
In his opening statement at the Senate Committee of the
Whole hearing today, the former food security secretary expressed his dismay
over the seeming leniency of the government regarding smuggled agricultural
products that have paved the way for unfair market competition.
“Malaking dagok ang smuggling sa kita ng ating mga
magsasaka’t mangingisda. Tinamaan na ng pandemya, tinamaan na ng sangkatutak na
importasyon, tapos ngayon, pati malawakang smuggling,” Pangilinan said.
“Base sa aking naging karanasan bilang food security
secretary noong 2014, hindi maaring mangyari ang smuggling kung walang kasabwat
[na] malalaking sindikato ng smuggling at mga kasabwat nitong kurakot at
tiwaling opisyal ng pamahalaan,” he added.
Pangilinan likened this smuggling scheme to the Pharmally
fiasco, wherein big businessmen are acting with impunity as they are backed by
corrupt government officials.(ai/mtvn)