De Lima deplores continued proliferation of smuggled agricultural products from China


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Photo Credit: EV ESPIRITU

Re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima deplored the continued proliferation of smuggled carrots and other vegetables from China in local markets, which adversely affects the local farmers who are reportedly running out of capital due to the said smuggling.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, underscored the need for the government to increase the country’s border control to prevent food smuggling and hold accountable all its enablers.

 “Our local farmers have been complaining of the adverse effects of smuggled carrots from China being sold in various markets in the Philippines since last year. It is unacceptable that they are still struggling with the same issue today, as they are being forced to compete with prices that they cannot match,” she said.

 “Every single day that smuggling continues to run rampant, local farmers lose income massively, which not only affects them and the family that they feed but also the local farming industry. Let’s not allow these smuggled carrots and other vegetables to further translate to millions of pesos of losses to our government in lost customs duties,” she added.

 During a Senate hearing, the League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Areas lamented that local farmers based in La Trinidad, Benguet are now losing P2.5 million a day after more smuggled carrots entered the market this year.

 Agot Balanoy, the public relations officer of the group, reportedly warned that farmers are running out of capitalization due to rampant smuggling, with some throwing away as much as half of their harvest because no one is buying.

 In a post on Facebook page, League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post, the group shared that “despite the dialogue with DA Central Office and Bureau of Plant Industry, smuggled China carrots that flooded Divisoria, Procy Market, Balintawak and other key markets DOUBLED IN VOLUME.”

 The group further lamented that “NO REAL ACTION from the local Benguet executive officials to STOP SMUGGLING and help the Benguet Vegetable Industry.”

 “Nasaan ang ngipin, ang tapang at malasakit ng gobyernong ito para sugpuin ang smuggling? May nalalaman pa si Duterte noon na sandali lang daw nyang masosolusyunan ang problemang ito, pero matatapos na ang termino nya, laganap pa rin ang pagpapalusot ng mga ilegal na produkto,” she said.

 “Hindi pa nakakabangon ang ating mga magsasaka sa bangungot at pagkalugi na dala ng pandemya, pero heto at pinabibigat pa rin ang kanilang pasanin ng smuggling. Yung kita nila, parang aksyon ng gobyerno, napakatumal,” she added.

The lady Senator from Bicol maintained that the government cannot ignore such issue, saying that food smuggling could cripple the local food industry because it would make the country’s economy almost totally dependent on imports.

 “The government must do something to stop food smuggling, lest they want our country to be at the mercy of food producing-countries. Let’s not wait for the time wherein we will not anymore be able to control the volume and price of goods to be made available to us,” she said.

 Last year, De Lima filed Proposed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 924 stating that Senate is duty-bound to ensure that the government is strictly implementing the law against agricultural smuggling, and provide mechanisms to improve the country’s policy regarding said issue to protect local farmers especially during this time of pandemic. (30)

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