Press Release
April 23, 2022

Pangilinan tells Bureau of Plant Industry chief to resign amid smuggling issue

VICE-PRESIDENTIAL aspirant Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Saturday called for the resignation of the chief of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), amid the unabated smuggling of agricultural products in the country.

In his interview on DZRH, the former food security czar did not mince his words, saying the BPI chief is good for nothing after revealing in a Senate hearing that the agency could not press charges against those behind the smuggling issue.

"Inutile itong BPI. Pinagre-resign ko na nga eh. Dahil puro dahilan ang binibigay niya," Panglinan said of George Culaste, BPI's Director.

At the continuation of the investigation by the Senate Committee of the Whole on vegetable smuggling last April 12, the BPI chief failed to provide an explanation for why smugglers continue to thrive and why the DA, particularly the agency he heads, is not filing cases these smugglers.

Based on the Senate investigation, warehouses and the logistic companies carrying smuggled agricultural products were already named. However, DA has yet to act on this information.

"Nagsampa na ba ng kaso dun sa mga smugglers ng carrots na meron nang warehouse na pangalan? Maraming warehouse. Wala. And then sinabi pa nung BPI, yung Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Plant Industry, wala daw silang magagawang magsampa ng kaso," Pangilinan said.

"Eh talagang pagka ayaw, maraming dahilan. Pagka gusto, maraming paraan," he added.

Pangilinan said that effective law enforcement is the key to addressing this smuggling issue. When he was Senate Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture in 2010, Pangilinan led a series of raids on warehouses of smuggled onions in Divisoria and Port of Manila.

For him, this kind of political will should be replicated by agencies tasked to safeguard the rights of the citizens from smuggled goods.

Pangilinan has vowed that under the leadership of a Robredo-Pangilinan administration, smuggling of agricultural products will be met with an iron fist, adding they will go after these "heartless" and "untouchables" smugglers.

"Hahabulin at kakasuhan ng Team Robredo-Pangilinan ang mga walang-pusong smuggler. Walang untouchable sa smuggling sa ilalim ng Robredo-Pangilinan administration. No untouchables under our watch," Pangilinan said a day after the Senate hearing on vegetable smuggling last March.

"Meron tayong batas. Ipapatupad natin ang batas gaya ng ginawa natin noon. Gamitin ang batas para protektahan ang karaniwang magsasaka at parusahan agad-agad ang mga lumalabag dito," he added.

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