Sen. Sotto pushes immediate probe of ‘large-scale smuggling’ of agri products

TUGUEGARAO CITY – Senate President Vicente Sotto III has urged an immediate investigation by the Senate Committee of the Whole of the reported “large-scale smuggling” of agricultural products across the country.

In an online news briefing with media players in Cagayan,  Sotto said continued smuggling of agricultural products, and corruption “kill and destroy local agriculture and rob farmers of their decent livelihood.”

He said the laws enacted “to modernize the agricultural sector hope to uplift the lives of our farmers would be futile if smuggling and corruption continue to reign.”

Sotto said large-scale smuggling of agricultural products including rice is “economic sabotage” under Republic Act 10845, the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.

He said the members of Congress, with its oversight function, would look into the issues of corruption and smuggling which are instrumental in “putting us all into suffering and extreme poverty.”

The Senator President noted that billions of pesos worth of smuggled goods was seized in documented 25 operations by the Bureau of Customs from May to November 18, this year.

“We will never achieve agricultural independence if some scrupulous individuals are in cahoots with smugglers,” Sotto said, lamenting that port congestion, extortion, red tape, and under-the-table deals to sabotage legitimate  businesses.