President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has certified as urgent a measure defining the crime of agricultural economic sabotage, providing penalties, and also creating an anti-agricultural economic sabotage council.

The President certified as urgent the approval of Senate Bill No. 2432 on Wednesday, through a letter addressed to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.

The bill repeals Republic Act No. 10845, or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, and seeks to promote the productivity of the agriculture sector and to protect farmers and fisherfolk from unscrupulous traders and importers and ensure reasonable and affordable prices of agricultural and fishery products for consumers.

The bill also imposes severe sanctions on the nefarious acts of smuggling, hoarding, profiteering, and cartel of agricultural and fishery products, including a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine thrice the value of the agricultural and fishery products subject of the crime as economic sabotage.

Any government officer or employee found to be an accomplice in the commission of the crime shall “suffer the additional penalties of perpetual disqualification from holding public office, exercising the right to vote, from participating in any public election, and forfeiture of employment monetary and financial benefits,” the bill read.

When the offender is a juridical person, criminal liability shall be attached to all officers who participated in the decision that led to the commission of the crime, with a penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification to engage in any business involving importation, transportation, storage and warehousing, and domestic trade of agricultural and fishery products.

Government authorities also has the right to confiscate the agricultural and fishery products which are subject of the prohibited acts and the properties used in the commission of the crime of agricultural economic sabotage such as, but not limited to, vehicles, vessels, aircrafts, storage areas, warehouses, boxes, cases, trunks, and other containers of whatever character used as receptacle of agricultural and fishery products.

The proposed measure is among the expanded Common Legislative Agenda discussed during the 3rd LEDAC Meeting.

The bill is now pending in the period of interpellations in the Senate, while a Technical Working Group is currently finalizing the version of the House of Representatives. | PND

 (Photo courtesy of BOC)