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Salceda wants semiconductor manufacturers to draw up plans to “seize opportunities, prepare for increased demand” as electronics manufacturing in China faces COVID-19 disruptions 

April 28th, 2022

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) says he wants to empower law enforcement on agricultural smuggling by creating the Agricultural Trade Intelligence and Investigation Service within the Department of Agriculture, in parallel with a strengthened Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service of the Bureau of Customs.

In a request addressed to DA Secretary William Dar and DA Undersecretary Fermin Adriano, Salceda asked the DA to formalize its request for police powers, earlier mentioned by Secretary Dar in a previous statement, by sending a draft of the proposed measure to the Albay solon. Salceda says he is also drafting a proposed measure and wants DA’s inputs on the matter.

“I have already taken the initiative and we are filing that measure. But I also want DA to see what works best given their hierarchy and needs,” Salceda said.

Salceda made the request amid reports of P300 billion in palm oil products technically smuggled in Philippine markets. Technical smuggling in palm oil products is allegedly conducted by declaring imports are crude palm oil fit for animal consumption, which is not subject to Value-Added Tax.

Salceda says that the ATIIS will be empowered to conduct investigations, apprehend offenders, and seize technically smuggled agricultural products, as well as work with customs enforcement. The Unit will also be allowed to file charges against offenders of Republic Act No. 10845 or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.

“The problem with RA 10845 is that, although it classifies large scale agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage, the teeth and the strong arm to enforce the law are not specified. The Bureau of Customs is made the lead implementing agency, but even its prosecutorial or enforcement powers are not elaborated enough,” Salceda added.

“I also want the DA unit to work with a strengthened Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service. That will help close the loopholes technical smugglers exploit,” Salceda stated.

Salceda says giving the DA a unit with police powers to enforce anti-smuggling laws will also ensure that “we still have anti-smuggling measures even after the goods pass through our ports.”

“It adds another layer of protection from smuggled goods, for our domestic agriculture sector,” Salceda says.

“The unit will also help address the concerns of the DA that the Department of Justice may not have the bandwidth to expeditiously pursue cases filed on agricultural smuggling,” Salceda added.

Adriano earlier told media that they are appealing to the DOJ to expedite the processing of cases related to agricultural smuggling.

“Similar to how the Commission of Internal Revenue can pursue cases on tax evaders, the Secretary of Agriculture should be able to pursue cases against agricultural smugglers,” Salceda adds.

“Agricultural smuggling is a serious, existential threat to local agriculture and food security. We cannot allow some gap in the law to prevent us from fighting the problem.”

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