Authorities have arrested an alleged “big-time onion smuggler” in Batangas, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Francisco “Kiko” Tiu Laurel Jr. announced on Friday, Nov. 17.
In a statement, Laurel said the police have apprehended Jayson de Roxas Taculog for violating Republic Act 10845, or the law declaring large-scale agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage.
The arrest warrant for Taculog was issued by Judge Edilu Hayag of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 26. No bail was recommended.
The arrest of Taculog, according to Laurel, is just the beginning of DA’s war against smugglers and hoarders of agricultural products.
“Umpisa pa lang si Taculog. Sa tulong ng pulis, korte at lokal na pamahalaan, patuloy na tutugisin ng Department of Agriculture ang mga smuggler at sumasabotahe sa ating sektor (Taculog’s arrest is just the beginning. With help from the police, the courts, and local government units, the Department of Agriculture will continue to run after smugglers and economic saboteurs),” he said in a statement.
“Isa sa mga utos ni Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos Jr. na habulin ang mga smugglers at hoarders. Agad nating inaksyunan ang direktibang ito ng Pangulo (One of the President’s marching orders is to go after smugglers and hoarders. We immediately implemented the President’s directive).”
The agriculture department noted that Taculog was nabbed for allegedly using fake, fictitious, or fraudulent import permits or shipping documents.
“Aside from evading payment of taxes and duties, he was also charged with misclassification, undervaluation, or misdeclaration of import entry and revenue declaration submitted with the Bureau of Customs. At the same time, he was accused of acting as the broker for a violating importer,” the agency added.
Should Taculog be found guilty, the DA said he may face life imprisonment.
“He may also be fined twice the fair value of the smuggled agricultural products and the aggregate amount of taxes, duties, and other charges he avoided paying,” it added.
Laurel said smugglers and hoarders are not only ruining farmers' livelihoods, but they are also abusing Filipino consumers through excessive food costs.
Per the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, large-scale agricultural smuggling occurs when at least P10 million worth of rice or at least P1 million worth of sugar, corn, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, fish, and cruciferous vegetables—either raw, processed, or preserved—is illegally brought into the country.
To recall, prices of agricultural products shot up in the tail end of 2022 and peaked in early 2023 due to a number of factors, including smuggling and hoarding, which the government vowed to eradicate.