Gatchalian wants gov’t to go after big-time smugglers

Gatchalian wants gov’t to go after big-time smugglers

By Liza Soriano

MANILA — Senator Win Gatchalian urged all responsible agencies to pursue agricultural product smugglers and defend nearby farmers from unfair competition.

“Kaliwa’t kanan ang mga nakukumpiskang produktong smuggled pero wala pang nahuhuling malaking isda. Dapat masawata ang mismong mga “big fish” upang mahinto o mabawasan na ang iligal na pag-aangkat ng mga produkto,” Gatchalian said.

Even a Senate investigative report that was published in June of last year by the Senate Committee of the Whole cited the potential involvement of specific people in extensive agricultural smuggling.

“Prices of various farm products have gone up considerably due in part to rampant smuggling of agricultural products that have rendered local farm output practically uncompetitive, which, in turn, undermines the productivity of local farmers,” Gatchalian noted.

“Aside from causing undue disadvantage to local farmers, smuggling also causes losses to the government in terms of unpaid duties and taxes. It is a major deterrent to economic growth, particularly in the countryside where our farmers are located,” he added.

Data from the agriculture department indicated that between 2019 and 2022 alone, about P667.5 million worth of agriculture and fishery products were smuggled into the country even as the Bureau of Customs (BOC) conducted 542 seizure cases involving P1.99 billion worth of agricultural products.

Farm commodities being smuggled into the country include sugar, corn, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, fish, and cruciferous vegetables as per data cited by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture.

(ai/mtvn)

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