Press Release
July 25, 2012


Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan expressed on Wednesday his support for Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's challenge to the Senate to crack down on food smuggling rings and address food security in the country.

Pangilinan, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, pointed out that "food security is a national security matter" and called on colleagues in government to "get to the bottom of food smuggling rings" and help ensure the sustainability of local agriculture.

"We are ready to get to the bottom of this latest attempt at smuggling agricultural produce into the country. It is hoped that by getting to the bottom of this reprehensible act we will prevent its repeat," the lawmaker said. "Flooding the market with smuggled rice deprives our rice farmers of their incomes and serves as a major disincentive for them to continue planting rice. It severely undermines our rice sufficiency program because it takes away from the farmers the opportunity to get fair market prices for their produce."

"Smuggling is the surest way to drive our local farmers and fisherfolk out of business and kill our local agricultural industry," Pangilinan emphasized. He added, "This is one major factor why we are unable to bring our farmers out of poverty, and the smuggling of agricultural products threatens our food security efforts."

"Rampant smuggling must be stamped out if food security is to be achieved for close to 100 million Filipinos."

Smuggling and its impact on food security became a hot topic at Wednesday's regular Senate session when Senate President Enrile delivered a privilege speech regarding smuggling. Pangilinan, in his capacity as Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, stepped up to make the Agriculture committee the lead committee in a forthcoming Senate investigation on the matter. The preliminary hearing is set for August 1, 2012, 9:30AM.

"When we undertake this investigation on the incident of smuggling and other incidents of smuggling, we are actually addressing a national security matter," Pangilinan reiterated. "Smuggling threatens the existence of our agricultural industry, and without an agricultural industry, up to 60% of our labor force will lose their jobs, the prices of food will skyrocket, and we could be facing a serious food crisis in the coming years."

"This is why the problem of smuggling is a national problem, and we--government and the private sector alike--must put an end to this once and for all."

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