The older sister’s thoughts

The older sister’s thoughts

Sen. Imee Marcos and President Bongbong Marcos

We find some muscle in the suggestion of Senator Imee Marcos to her younger brother, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., to order the immediate arrest of identified smugglers of agricultural products to solve the country’s problems with the rising prices of farm commodities.

The senator, whose phrasal verbs we know are never lost on the younger sibling, had said in a recent radio interview that while several agricultural smugglers have been identified, the Department of Agriculture, which the President heads, and the Bureau of Customs have done nothing to put these people behind bars.

Indeed it is high time the 64-year-old President stopped being perceived, rightly or wrongly, as soft-hearted and showed for once his displeasure over the unflagging smuggling of agricultural products which is strangling to kingdom come to the local farming industry.

The senator, two years the President’s senior, had said the plan was that he [President Marcos] would get the DA portfolio “since that is our biggest problem.”

But, she added: “To my understanding, his marching order is to run after the smugglers… But nothing has happened. The smugglers are still doing their illegal activities and it seems that they are friends with the DA and Customs that’s why they remain scot-free.

“It’s frustrating since the smugglers have already been identified.”

Former Senate President Vicente Sotto III had released the names of alleged agricultural smugglers, which he said was based on intelligence information that his office had gathered at the time.

Sotto disclosed the names in the Senate committee of the whole report on its investigation into the unabated smuggling of agricultural products.

Let’s get the lingo as it was unreeled by the senator: “Parang alam na ng lahat ng tao kung sino ang mga ito, pero wala namang humuhuli sa kanila. Ang masaklap niyan pag minanipula nila ang presyo, ginagamit pa ‘yung mga kooperatiba (at) ‘yung mga magsasaka.”

Senator Marcos noted that the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act was signed into law in 2016 but not one big fish had been arrested so far.

“Anong klase iyon? Kaya ito ang usapan, masyado daw mabait ang ading ko… Aba’y pati ‘yung Santo Kristo natin nagalit sa templo at pinagbubulyawan ang pari at escribo. Kailangan yata magalit na rin siya.”

Senator Marcos echoed what some political analysts, critics, and other observers have said previously, that the President, his good intentions and all beyond fault-finding, should now appoint a full-time DA head but someone who is not a relative and not just anybody since the post is science-based.

We heard it from some observers that these smugglers have established accomplices in the DA and the Bureau of Customs.

As Senator Marcos herself said: “We all know them. Earlier, concerns about vegetables were aired. Well vegetables, everybody knows. That certain ‘Michael.’ Everybody knows that certain Leah Cruz. These people are well-known. In rice, we know that certain David Tan Bangayan,” she said in an interview with dzMM.

The senator also mentioned a certain Paul Teves who is allegedly one of the people behind sugar smuggling.

“The worse part is if they manipulate the prices, they use cooperatives, the farmers. That’s what happened in white onions. That’s also what happened in our area (in Ilocos Norte).”

She referred to the modus operandi of some traders who buy farmers’ produce at a very low price and store it in warehouses to eventually declare a shortage.

“The small cooperatives, they are being made importers by cartels and big syndicates. Think of it, small farmers can import USD5 million worth of onions, and vegetables. Can you believe that? They are just being used,” Senator Marcos said.

Some speed indeed is needed to check these iron-fisted and oppressive manipulators of prices and smugglers.

The deadline was yesterday.

(ai/mtvn)

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