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P16.5-b rice, pork smuggled

Some P16.5 billion worth of rice and pork were smuggled into the Philippines in the first half of 2015, the Samahang Industriya sa Agrikultura said Thursday.

Sinag chairman Rosendo So said in a news briefing some 365,000 metric tons of rice from Vietnam entered the country with a total value of P10.9 billion.

So said P5.6 billion worth of pork were also smuggled into the country in the January-June period.

He said the figures were on top of P39 billion worth of agricultural products that were illegally imported into the country in 2014.

“Just for last year, at least P39 billion worth of agricultural products was smuggled into the country, depriving the government of some P8.4 billion of lost revenues,” So said.

Sinag said smuggled agricultural commodities last year included rice, corn, pork, chicken, sugar and onion.

The agri group asked Congress to immediately pass House Bill 6209, a proposed legislation declaring the smuggling of agricultural commodities as economic sabotage.

Sinag also lauded the impending resignation of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima from the Justice Department, saying de Lima “is the biggest obstacle in bringing smugglers to justice.”

So said rice farmers and rice traders risked their lives in giving their testimonies and providing evidence on the transactions of alleged rice smuggler Davidson Bangayon.

So, however, claimed that de Lima did not move a finger in filing formal charges against Bangayan.

“By making the smuggling of agricultural products a non-bailable offense and with the impending appointment of a new DoJ secretary, we are hoping that these developments would contribute in the curbing of smuggling activities in the country,” So said.

“We are urging then that whoever would be appointed as DOJ secretary should prioritize the formal filing of charges aganst identified smugglers,” So said.

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