VICE-PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Tuesday said that a Robredo-Pangilinan administration will go after smugglers especially of agriculture products to protect Filipino farmers.
“Hahabulin at kakasuhan ng TROPA (Team Robredo-Pangilinan) ang mga walang-pusong smuggler. Walang untouchable sa smuggling sa ilalim ng Robredo-Pangilinan administration. No untouchables under our watch,” Pangilinan said a day after the Senate hearing on vegetable smuggling.
“Meron tayong batas. Ipapatupad natin ang batas gaya ng ginawa natin noon. Gamitin ang batas para protektahan ang karaniwang magsasaka at parusahan agad-agad ang mga lumalabag dito,” he added.
On Monday, the lawmaker said smuggling can be stopped if not for the “untouchables” who are being coddled by corrupt government officials.
“Mayroong untouchables. May mga untouchables. Malakas ang kapit na ayaw nilang habulin. Iyan ang basa ko diyan. Masyado sigurong malapit sa mga naka-upo kaya ganyan ang sitwasyon,” Pangilinan said at the continuation of the investigation by the Senate Committee of the Whole on vegetable smuggling.
Back in 2010 when he was Senate Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, Pangilinan led a series of raid in warehouses of smuggled onions in Divisoria and Port of Manila.
Citing official Department of Agriculture data submitted to the Senate, Pangilinan said over half a billion pesos worth of agri-fishery products of rice, meat, and assorited vegetables were seized last year. Of this, the biggest was P150 million worth of onions, mostly from China.
“Bakit nakakalusot ang mga ito? Nakakaawa ang ating mga magsasaka na sa kabila ng pagod at hirap nila, patuloy pa rin ang smuggling sa bansa,” he said.
“Pinapatay ng smuggling ang ating mga magsasaka. Dapat mga magsasakang Pilipino ang tinutulungan nating umangat at hindi ang mga dayuhan,” Pangilinan said.
In July 2021, the DA confiscated 29 reefer containers of red onions in the Port of Subic, amounting to P101 million. Another 18 reefer containers of red onions, which amounted to at least P50 million, were seized in November at the Cagayan de Oro port.
For Pangilinan, this series of confiscation proves that smuggling remains rampant in the country despite the government’s supposed anti-smuggling measures.
Pangilinan urged government agencies to go after “heartless” smugglers and traders who benefit from this unfair practice.