Pangilinan hits 'never ending' issue of smuggling of agri products

Published December 8, 2021, 1:30 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Opposition Senator Francis ‘’Kiko’’ Pangilinan on Tuesday, Dec. 7 said continued smuggling at the ports undermines the country’s ability for self-sufficiency.

Pangilinan stressed this during the Senate plenary session where he supported the proposal of Senate President Vicente Sotto III to probe the supposed smuggling of agricultural products in the Philippines.

After a privilege speech of Sotto on the ‘’efficacy or lack of it of the Bureau of Customs operations against smuggling of agricultural products, the Senate decided to form itself into a Committee of the Whole to investigate this issue.

Pangilinan said the problem continues to undermine the country’s ability to food self-sufficiency.

He said he filed a similar measure, Senate Resolution No. 922 last September, directing the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the proliferation of Chinese vegetables in the market which made the produce of local farmers less competitive.

“Again, congratulations Mr. President. We thank the Senate President for championing the cause of our farmers and our fisherfolk. I am hoping that we will be able to address this perennial problem on smuggling that affects the incomes and welfare of our farmers and fisherfolk,” Pangilinan said

. Senator Grace Poe on the other hand, shared the sentiment of Senate President Vicente Sotto III on the “never-ending issue of smuggling at the Bureau of Customs (BOC).”

In today’s plenary session where Sotto delivered a privilege speech on what ails the BOC in relation to agricultural product smuggling, Poe related that her office received a complaint regarding an incident where a specific joint venture has won the right to replace the existing and antiquated port system at the BOC with a modern and improved system.

However, until now, this old system has not yet been replaced, she said.

‘’“I’m also interested to know what has happened since the right has been awarded. What is taking them so long to fund, if it is needed so that it could improve the overall process of the BOC? Is it also a manifestation of corruption at the agency? The problem at the Customs is like a pandemic that could not be cured by the administration,’’ she said.

‘’Hopefully, we can trace the problem, through our oversight function, and those who should be held accountable,” Poe added.