Senator Imee Marcos will call for an investigation of possible economic sabotage in the “untimely and excessive” importation of vegetables from China while local produce from Benguet and other Cordillera farms continue to rot.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, is preparing to file a Senate resolution to ferret out vegetable importers and officials in the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Bureau of Customs (BoC) involved in agricultural smuggling.
“Wala tayong kadala-dala, nangyari na ito nung 2020, at nabigyan na ang DA ng Kadiwa trucks, tauhan at pambili ng gulay at baboy. Bakit ayaw pa rin ng DA bumili sa Pilipino? Bakit puro imported ang pinapaboran nila? Totoo nga bang nagpalit na sila ng pangalan sa Department of Importation, imbes na Agriculture?” Marcos said.
(We still haven’t learned our lesson, this already happened in 2020, and DA was already given Kadiwa trucks, manpower, and the budget to buy vegetables and pork. Why does the DA still refuse to buy Filipino? Why do they favor imported goods? Is it true they’ve already changed their name to Department of Importation, instead of Agriculture?)
“Bugbog na ang mga local farmers sa pandemya at sa utang, hindi pa nabibili ang kanilang mga ani. Nabubulok at itinatapon na lang ang mga gulay na dapat sana mapakinabangan sa Metro Manila, kung naagapan lang ng DA,” Marcos added.
(Local farmers have been battered by the pandemic and by debt while their harvests have been left unsold. Their vegetables would not have been left to rot and discarded and could have benefited Metro Manila, if only the DA were more proactive.)
The smuggling of agricultural products is a form of economic sabotage and is punishable under the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, or Republic Act 10845, Marcos pointed out.
As local farmers bewailed the dearth of buyers and quarantine restrictions turning fewer deliveries into spoiled goods, the BoC confiscated some Php4.7 million worth of imported cabbage, carrots, broccoli and other vegetables during a raid Thursday in Divisoria and other parts of Tondo, Manila.
Meanwhile, at least eight metric tons of tomatoes from Ifugao have also been dumped, sold at a loss to hog and duck raisers, or plowed back into farms because of the DA’s “lack of foresight,” Marcos said.
“Kailangan kumain ng maraming lokal na gulay ang DA at walang kasusta-sustansiya ang pamamalakad nito. Bakit hindi tuloy-tuloy ang pag-andar ng mga Kadiwa centers at ginagawang panakip-butas lang pag andyan na ang problema?” Marcos said.
(The DA needs to eat more local vegetables as its management remains sluggish. Why are the Kadiwa centers not running continuously and only used as a stopgap measure when the problem is already there?),” Marcos said.
“Protecting our local farmers is the solution to long-term national food security, not the importation of agricultural produce, legal as that may be,” Marcos added.