Lacson, Sotto to go after food smugglers, protectors

Legal Rights

Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III vowed to continue their policies if they are elected president and vice president, respectively.

A Lacson presidency would work to protect the agriculture industry by going after food smugglers and their protectors, Sotto said in a statement on Monday.

He ensured that agricultural criminals would be charged within a year into their administration and sent to jail before their six-year term ends.

“Nanawagan po ako sa ating mga magsasaka, mangingisda, at pati sa ating poultry at hog raisers na tulungan kami ni Sen. Lacson na ma-iluklok bilang pangulo at pangalawang pangulo ng ating bansa nang tuluyan na natin maipahinto at mapakulong ang mga sindikato sa likod ng agricultural smuggling dito sa ating bansa (I call on our farmers, fishermen and poultry and hog raises to help Sen. Lacson and I become president and vice president so we may end once and for all agricultural smuggling in country),” Sotto said.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) previously said 103 cases related to agricultural smuggling have been filed from 2016 to March 2022. The total value of the goods involved in these cases add up to P1.35 billion, including duties and taxes.

The National Prosecution Service said it filed agricultural smuggling-related cases against only four people so far, one of which was dismissed due to lack of evidence.

The National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) said it has identified more than 20 possible “smugglers and players” who reportedly get protection from the Department of Agriculture and the BOC.

“Bubuwagin po natin ang mga sindikatong ito. Sisiguruhin po natin na makukulong ang mga dapat makulong. I-aangat po nating muli ang angkat ng kabuhayan ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda. Tututukan natin ang agriculture industry nang sa gayon ay manatiling maayos ang suplay ng ating bigas at fishery, meat, and chicken products (We will eliminate this syndicate and ensure that the guilty land in jail. We will elevate their lives ensure the sufficiency of the supply of rice, fishery, meat, and chicken products),” Sotto said.

Four high-profile personalities allegedly involved in fruits and vegetable smuggling were revealed in the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on April 12.

Sotto verified with NICA the names Manuel Tan who allegedly operates in Subic, Cagayan de Oro, and Batangas; Andrew Chang in Subic, Manila International Container Port, Port of Manila, and Batangas; Leah “Luz” Cruz, the “Onion Queen” who allegedly operates in Manila and Cagayan de Oro City; and a certain Jun Diamante, who allegedly smuggles agri-fishery products in Cagayan De Oro City.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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