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Monday, July 22, 2024

Crackdown on economic sabotage

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Forget that old adage about hitting two birds with one stone, it’s not bird-friendly at all.

Let’s just say we’re getting two for the price of one, and it’s a bargain that’s definitely hard to resist at a time when prices of just about everything are going nowhere but up.

We’re talking about the passage late last month by the House of Representatives of two measures ultimately aimed at lowering the prices of agri-fishery and tobacco products.

House Bill 9283 seeks to improve law enforcement, case buildup, and prosecution of acts of market abuse considered as economic sabotage.

These acts include large-scale smuggling, hoarding, profiteering, and cartelizing of agri-fishery and tobacco products.

The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 10845, or the 2016 Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, by proposing harsh penalties against economic sabotage through agricultural smuggling.

HB 9284, on the other hand, increases the certainty of being arrested, prosecuted, tried, and convicted as the best deterrent against the operations of smugglers, hoarders, and profiteers. The bill sets the new minimum threshold for hoarding, profiteering, cartels, and other acts of market abuse involving agri-fishery products at P2.5 million.

We agree with Rep. Mark Enverga, chair of the House agriculture and food committee, these measures will definitely improve the chances of convicting smugglers.

According to Speaker Martin Romualdez, the two measures “will help realize the president’s aspirations of affordable produce and food self-sufficiency,” while ensuring the happy days of smugglers, hoarders, and those involved in cartels “are numbered.”

The government’s firm stance against agricultural smuggling is timely and appropriate with the President himself certifying as urgent a Senate bill imposing more severe sanctions for agricultural hoarding and smuggling.

This bill seeks to amend Republic Act 10845 and to protect farmers from unscrupulous traders and importers.

The Chief Executive emphasized the need to facilitate the passage of this important piece of legislation especially now that the country is beset by rising prices and shortages in agricultural products, partly due to the combined effects of smuggling, hoarding, profiteeríng, and cartelization.

What is needed after Congress shall have passed the legislation needed to give more teeth to the campaign against economic sabotage is for the Executive branch and law enforcement agencies to run after the big fish and send all of them to jail.


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