Hontiveros proposes punishment for gov’t officials involved in agri smuggling

Hontiveros proposes punishment for gov’t officials involved in agri smuggling

MANILA — Senator Risa Hontiveros is pushing for the prosecution of government employees and officials who collaborate with agricultural smugglers.

Hontiveros has introduced Senate Bill No. 2205, which aims to amend certain provisions of Republic Act No. 10845, also known as the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, to make it a crime for government employees and officials to conspire with large-scale agricultural smugglers.

“While there have been numerous reports of seized smuggled products since the law’s enactment in 2016, no individuals, groups, or corporations have been prosecuted under this legislation,” she explained.

“There has been a lack of accountability for government officials who facilitate and support acts of agricultural smuggling that result in significant economic sabotage. Consequently, smuggling activities continue to occur with impunity,” Hontiveros emphasized.

The proposed measure declares any action by a public employee or officer that allows the importation of goods into the country without the required import permit as economic sabotage.

“In the ongoing sugar fiasco, for instance, documented evidence reveals that tens of thousands of metric tons of sugar—a regulated commodity—entered the country without a sugar order,” Hontiveros pointed out.

Additionally, the approval or issuance of any license, declaration, clearance, or permit by a public employee or officer, knowing that it is clearly unlawful, inequitable, or irregular, will also be considered economic sabotage.

Any individual found guilty of violating the proposed measure will be subject to life imprisonment and a fine equal to twice the fair value of the smuggled agricultural product, which includes the taxes, duties, and other charges evaded, along with interest at the legal rate.

The statute of limitations for filing charges will be set at 20 years.

“Agricultural smuggling is causing the government to lose billions of pesos in revenue every year. The smuggling of regulated agricultural commodities has also resulted in high prices for consumers, the violation of our competition laws, and most importantly, the further decline of our domestic agricultural sector,” Hontiveros stated in the explanatory note.

“It is time to hold government officials accountable for allowing smuggling to persist unchecked,” she concluded.


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