By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
March 18, 2016
PASAY CITY – Infusing more funds to help lift the ailing agriculture sector would be more meaningful for farmers if stricter policies are put in place to fight the influx of cheap agricultural products smuggled into the country, vice-presidential frontrunner Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said.
Under “Gobyernong may Puso,” Escudero and his presidential running mate Sen. Grace Poe are pushing for additional P300 billion in funds for the agriculture sector, if they win the election, to boost the industry battered by high cost of production, extreme weather condition and poor support services from the government.
According to Escudero, increasing the budget allocation of the sector, which is comprised of 60 percent of the country’s poorest, would be useless if farmers won’t be able to sell their yield at competitive prices because of smuggling.
“Dapat tayo ang mag-export ng ating mga produkto kaya dapat solusyonan ang problema sa smuggling ng agricultural products galing sa ibang bansa dahil nalulugi ang ating mga magsasaka,” Escudero said.
A study by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) indicated that the value of smuggled agricultural items into the country ballooned to more than $10 billion annually by year 2008 from $6 billion during the 1980s.
SEARCA also cited data from the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research (DA-BAR) on domestic agricultural production and consumption from 1986 to 2009, which pointed to entry of illegally shipped milled rice ($1.196 billion), refined sugar ($448.2 million), beef ($428.8 million), onion ($259.55 million), pork ($117.45 million), chicken ($27.8 million), ginger ($7.8 million), and carrots and turnips ($6.5 million).
“Hindi lang ang mga kalamidad at kawalan ng suporta mula sa pamahalaan ang matinding kalaban ng ating mga magsasaka kung hindi rin ang walang humpay na smuggling ng mga produktong agrikultura galing sa ibang bansa tulad ng bawang, sibuyas at asukal,” the veteran lawmaker said.
Escudero, however, assured that anti-smuggling measures will be a priority of the government led by Poe.
“Layunin namin ni Sen. Grace na tapusin na ang paghihirap ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda sa pamamagitan ng mas malaking badyet mula sa pamahalaan at pagpigil sa mga nagsasamantala sa kanilang kahinaan,” Escudero said.
As legislators, Poe and Escudero have separately filed bills aiming to curb smuggling in the country.
Poe has filed Senate Bill No. 2348, which seeks to define smuggling as an act that constitutes economic sabotage.
Escudero, on the other hand, filed Senate Bill No. 422 or the Anti-Smuggling Act, which amends the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines to stop smuggling, simplify rules and facilitate trade transaction, among others.