AGRI Party-list supports fight against agricultural smuggling

AGRI Party-list supports fight against agricultural smuggling

By Liza Soriano

Rep. Wilbert T. Lee of AGRI Party-list (Manila Bulletin photo courtesy)

MANILA — Rep. Wilbert T. Lee of the AGRI Party-list asked all branches of government to “come forward and put a stop to the sordid practice” and supported the idea of Congress taking part in the battle against agricultural smuggling this year.

“It’s high time that Congress, through its powers of legislation and oversight, gets involved in the fight before things get totally out of control. Kumilos na tayo para sa ating mga kababayan na nagdurusa dahil sa pambibiktima ng mga agricultural smugglers,” Lee said.

Joey Salceda, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and a representative from Albay, promised this week that Congress would take action against agri-smugglers who have long been responsible for the decline of local agricultural sectors and price manipulation through an independent panel.

“For this reason, I will be asking an independent panel such as the Institute for Solidarity in Asia to see what changes we can further bring to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to tighten agricultural smuggling enforcement,” Salceda said.

Lee, who hails from Sorsogon, said he would fully support his fellow Bicolano in his efforts.

“This is an issue that transcends the divisions in Congress. Sa harap ng ganito kalaki at katalamak na problema, kailangang sama-sama tayong umaaksyon,” the lawmaker said.

“Sa kasong ito, hindi maaaring winner tayong lahat. Kinakailangang mapanagot ang mga smuggler na matagal nang pinagsasamantalahan ang pamilyang Pilipino. Congress can make some headway in this regard to make these criminals accountable,” Lee added.

The lawmaker also underscored the need to capacitate offices tasked with combatting agricultural smuggling so they could fulfill their tasks properly.

“Bigyan natin ng sapat na pondo at ngipin ang mga opisinang gaya ng Office of the Assistant Secretary for Inspectorate and Enforcement sa ilalim ng National Food Safety and Food Security Agency para maisagawa nila nang maayos ang kanilang mga tungkulin,” he said.

(ai/mtvn)

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