Sinag: Smugglers still in ‘business’
The Samahang Industriya sa Agrikultura (Sinag) called on the new Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs, Nicanor Faeldon, to file charges of economic sabotage against those who tried to smuggle 88 containers of onions into the country.
“This is the litmus test on both the resolve of the Duterte government to combat smuggling and the effectiveness of the recently signed law – RA 10845, that decreed the smuggling of agricultural products as an act that constitute economic sabotage,” said Rosendo So, Sinag chair.
“We are hoping that this time, these smugglers will be apprehended, charged and punished accordingly. Many in the agriculture sector voted for President Digong because of his campaign promise to end smuggling,” added So.
Sinag was alerted by source at the Bureau of Customs that these 87 containers were abandoned by the consignees – Sanfred Trading and Great Light Trading.
“Nung una, sinubukan nilang ilabas ang siyam na containers pero nahuli ito. Then, they wanted that these shipments to be inspected at their warehouse, hindi kami pumayag dahil dapat sa mismong pantalan pa lamang ang inspection. Next thing we knew, they are already abandoning their shipments citing decomposition. Most of the shipments were declared as garlic, but the content was onion,” revealed So.
Under RA 10845, the amount of smuggled agricultural product subject to economic sabotage is equal or more than Php10 million for rice, and equal or more than Php1 million for other agricultural products such as sugar, corn, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, fish and cruciferous vegetables.
Smugglers and their cohorts will face a 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.
Sinag contends that the 88 containers are worth at least Php 130 million; much more than the Php 1 million minimum amount for these smugglers to be charged with economic sabotage, also a non-bailable offense.
In the last five years, Sinag research suggests that close to Php 200 billion worth of agricultural goods were smuggled into the country.
According to the group, a market value of Php 200 billion translates to around Php 60 billion to Php 80 billion in lost revenues for the government since these agricultural commodities are supposed to be protected and levied a higher tariff of 30% to 40%.
Around 65 percent of global onion output comes from the top 8 onion producing countries, with China as the top onion producer with over 22.3 million tons. India is ranked second, producing some 19.3 million tons. The rest of the list includes USA, Iran, Russia, Turkey, Egypt and Pakistan. It is estimated that for this year, onion production will increase by at least 10% in India alone.
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