Press Releases

Salceda supports Marcos call against agri smuggling; House tax panel chair cites committee’s contributions to fight against smuggling of agri products

August 1st, 2022

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) supports the call of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for the Department of Agriculture to work with Congress and the Bureau of Customs to fight the smuggling of agricultural products. Salceda says that the obligation of Congress is “to use its constructive powers as the country’s ultimate policymaking and implementation oversight body, and to use its investigative powers in aid of legislation, when there is inertia in the executive agencies.”

“I prefer using our constructive powers, because that tends to work so much better. The grandstanding is set aside in favor of actually getting things done,” Salceda said.

Salceda said that since February 2021, the House Committee on Ways and Means has been working with executive agencies to curb smuggling of agricultural products.

“We support PBBM’s call because this will strengthen our ongoing work with the BOC and other agencies to curb agricultural smuggling. We alerted the BOC and the other relevant agencies about the possible scale of agricultural smuggling in the country as early as February 2021”.We also formally requested the BOC to create a joint task force with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and other agencies to tighten enforcement on smuggling,” he said.

“Since then, the joint task force has been seizing smuggled agricultural products in various entry points and warehouses. Smuggled red onions appears to be the most commonly apprehended agri good by the task force.”

“In March 2021, again following hearings and a formal request by the Committee on the threat of smuggled goods on biosafety, the Department of Agriculture adopted stricter rules through the issuance of Memorandum Circular No. 12 which establishes comprehensive biosafety and biosecurity guidelines and a plan of action for improving biosafety systems. That will help prevent something like ASF or avian flu.”

“In October 2021, we also tasked the BOC to focus on filing cases against those caught smuggling agricultural products. In November 2021, we requested the Philippine Coast Guard to patrol private ports, which we suspected are an entry point for smuggled agricultural products. In December 2021, we brought the issue of smuggled strawberries to the public’s attention.”

“And then, this April and May, just before the term of the Committee ended, we again brought technical smuggling, particularly palm oil, to the attention of the authorities. Due to this, the National Bureau of Investigation began its probe into what we saw as a P45 billion revenue loss to the government.”

“So, we already worked on the whole gamut of what you can consider agricultural smuggling, from illegal entry, to faulty biosafety inspections, to technical smuggling and misdeclaration. I prefer the House committee’s approach, because it is constructive. And I think, PBBM also prefers that approach, since it actually yields structural solutions rather than merely naming and shaming a few persons.”

“Although we will not hesitate to use our investigative powers, the House Ways and Means Committee always prefers to deal with problems systemically, rather than in a personality-based manner. If the systems are at fault, then no matter who or how many smugglers you catch, there will always be new smugglers to replace the old ones. So, we need to fix systems, processes, and policies. That is the work of Congress,” Salceda added,

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