SENATE Minority Leader Aquilino Martin “Koko” D. Pimentel III has filed a resolution directing the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to probe, in aid of legislation, the “rampant and unabated” agricultural smuggling in the country.
The investigation will be held “with the end view of identifying accountability and making changes to our anti-smuggling laws and processes, if found necessary,” he said under Senate Resolution 477, filed on Monday.
Smuggled agricultural goods, he said, affects the livelihood of farmers and fisherfolk, poses health risks, and deprives the government of needed revenues.
He cited data found by the Senate Committee of the Whole during the previous Congress indicating that technically smuggled farm-fishery commodities amounted to about P667.5 million from 2019 to 2022.
At that time, 31 smuggling cases were pending from May 2021, with the total amount of smuggled goods estimated at P848.33 million.
A list of people allegedly involved in large-scale agricultural smuggling was also reported by the committee, “yet until now no smuggler has been sent to jail and agricultural smuggling remains rampant in the country,” Mr. Pimentel said.
The senator cited that in January alone at least P19 million worth of illegal sugar was discovered while about P20 million worth of red onions were reportedly seized.
“Unfortunately, up until now, smuggling persists, if not worse than before,” he said. “The government has not successfully eradicated or even countered smuggling, which has greatly affected our farmers and the consumers as well with the soaring prices of food commodities.” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan