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Miro wants stiffer penalties vs. smuggling

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Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo is pushing for a measure declaring large-scale smuggling of agricultural products as economic sabotage.

In House Bill 6259, or the “Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2015,” Quimbo, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, also proposed higher sanctions for large-scale smuggling of agricultural products to ensure food security and prices stability as well as to protect the income and well-being of Filipino farmers.

Citing a report by the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), Quimbo said that from 2013 to 2014, the government incurred a total of P64 billion foregone revenue due to the widespread smuggling of agricultural products.

“This amount represents a P32 billion loss per year, which could have been used for the construction of approximately 21,000 classrooms, or 2,600 health centers. In fact, the amount of loss reported for these two years is more than enough to cover the budget of the Department of Agriculture for 2016, and with an excess sufficient to help rehabilitate our agricultural sector,” according to Quimbo.

House Bill 6259 provides the crime of large-scale agricultural smuggling as economic sabotage, 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, with a minimum amount of P1 million, or rice with a minimum amount of P10 million, as valued by the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

The bill also imposes the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of twice the fair value of the smuggled agricultural product and the aggregate amount of the taxes, duties and other charges avoided, on any person involved in large-scale agricultural smuggling.

The penalty of 17 to 20 years of imprisonment, and a fine of twice the fair value of the smuggled agricultural products and the aggregate amount of taxes, duties and other charges avoided shall be imposed on the officers of dummy corporations and other entities who knowingly sell, lend, lease, assign, consent or allow the unauthorized use of their import permits for purposes of smuggling.

Meanwhile, imprisonment of 14 to 17 years and a fine equal to the fair value of the smuggled agricultural product and the aggregate amount of taxes, duties and other charges avoided shall be imposed on the registered owner and its lessee of boats, vessels, trucks, vans and other means of transportation used in the transport of smuggled agricultural products subject to economic sabotage while the same penalty awaits the owner and lessee of a warehouse or property, who knowingly stores the smuggled agricultural product.

Also the bill said that the same penalty shall also be imposed on the registered owner, lessee, president or chief executive officer of the private port, fish port, fish landing sites, resorts, airports, who knowingly allow agricultural smuggling.

If the offender is a government official or employee, the penalty shall be the maximum as hereinabove prescribed and the offender shall suffer an additional penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office, to vote and to participate in any public election, the bill added.