Large-scale smuggling of agricultural products in the country is now considered as economic sabotage.
This was according to draft Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10845, or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, submitted by Bureau of Customs (BoC) to the Department of Finance (DOF).
The draft IRR of RA 10845 aims to penalize agricultural smugglers with graver penalties which is set for final review by the Finance department.
Under the IRR, "Large-scale agricultural smuggling" covers all importations -- involving sugar, corn, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, fish, and cruciferous vegetables -- in their raw state, or which have undergone the simple processes of preparation or preservation for the market.
Illegal importations with a fair market value of PHP1,000,000 or PHP10,000,000 in the case of rice, will fall under this classification.
Under RA 10845, large-scale agricultural smuggling is committed through any of the following acts:
-- importing or bringing goods into the Philippines without the required import permit
-- unauthorized use of import permits
-- using fake import permits or shipping documents
-- selling, lending, leasing, assigning, consenting or allowing the use of import permits
-- organizing or using dummy corporations or companies for the purpose of acquiring import permits
-- misclassification, undervaluation, or misdeclaration to evade payment of lawful duties and taxes
-- transporting or storing the agricultural product subject to economic sabotage
-- acting as broker of the violating importer.
Violators will be imposed with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and a fine of twice the fair value of the smuggled agricultural products and the aggregate amount of the taxes, duties, and other charges. Local offenders shall be penalized with perpetual disqualification to engage in importation, while alien offenders shall be deported after serving the sentence. Government officials involved in smuggling shall be punished with criminal liability and perpetual disqualification from public office.
Also, seized smuggled agricultural products shall be forfeited in favor of the government.
RA 10845 aims to protect farmers from unscrupulous traders and importers. Illegal importation of agricultural products -- especially rice -- significantly affects the production, the availability of supply and stability of prices, and the food security of the state.
Also, illegal entry of agricultural products causes heavy damage to the country's agriculture sector and the government, with revenue losses amounting to PHP60-80 billion.
In drafting the IRR, the BoC engaged various stakeholders and agencies such as the Sugar Regulatory Agency (SRA), National Food Authority (NFA), National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), and Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) in a public consultation.
Source: Philippines News Agency