Press Releases

Salceda commends customs for stronger agri smuggling enforcement; House tax chair says fight against smuggled food ‘crucial’ to protecting farmers’ income, biosafety

October 16th, 2021

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) commended the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for its intensified efforts to combat food smuggling, which has resulted in some P543 million worth of smuggled agriculture products being apprehended by the agency over the first three quarters of the year. Salceda, as House tax chair, is the House’s overseer of the agency. The House tax chair also called these efforts ‘crucial to protecting farmers’ income during the pandemic, especially as agriculture remains one of our least developed sectors.’

“The Bureau of Customs reported that it caught some P545 million worth of smuggled crops as of end-September, and that they have filed cases against dozens of importers and brokers as part of efforts to improve border security. I welcome this development.”

The BOC filed 14 lawsuits before the Department of Justice in a bid to punish 41 individuals involved in the smuggling of farm goods. The agency said these importers and brokers tried to smuggled P85.2 million worth of agricultural products into the domestic market.

Salceda says that he welcomes this figures, following his challenge to the BOC that they strengthen enforcement against agricultural smuggling.

In March 2021, the House Committee on Ways and Means held hearings on agricultural smuggling, and made recommendations to the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Customs on preventing the smuggling of food stuffs.

“I am glad that the DOF and the BOC took on the challenge and I congratulate them for this improvement. Of course, as always, we can do even better, and I challenge the agencies to push even harder, as the Christmas season begins and more food stuffs will likely be imported,” Salceda said.

Stronger biosafety for food imports

Salceda also said that he will follow up on the committee’s recommendation that the BOC and the Department of Agriculture strengthen efforts to combat agricultural smuggling and to fight biosafety threats.

During the March hearings Salceda said that “Agricultural smuggling harms our industries and our revenues. And lax enforcement of biosecurity in importation threatens our own domestic agriculture sector. We in the Ways and Means Committee will work with the Executive to address these risks.”

“I will ask for updates on these measures. I received some updates on certain requests already.”

Salceda noted that on June 22, 2021, Agriculture Secretary William Dar issued a Memorandum Circular “directing the establishment of biosafety, -security and -surveillance system by adopting the plan of action and measures as the roadmap for implementation.”

“Partly due to Congressional request, the DA issued that circular, which I welcome.”

“At least the responsibilities are now clear. Moving forward, I will seek updates on whether the plan of action helped, and whether we are now doing better with biosafety threats, especially African Swine Fever, which many suspect to have brought to the country through smuggled food.” #

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