Press Release
September 15, 2009

Alarmed by recent news on agri smuggling

Senator Edgardo J. Angara today emphasized the need to have a more serious and effective means of combating smuggling.

A report from a farmers' group says that as much as 2.3 million bags of onions from China and India have been smuggled into the country since the start of this year alone. Such rampant smuggling has flooded the market with artificially cheap imported onions, keeping local harvests stuck in cold storage plants -- and thousands of farmers with no sale nor profit.

"We should not tolerate this advantageous act and let it linger while the law abiding people who works hard to render goods and services gets less because of smugglers," said Angara who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance and author of SB 905 which seeks to rationalize the forfeiture and disposition of property sized by the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

He added, "There should be more effort to support legal business and sharper tool to place illegals to bars".

Despite legislative measures of the Congress;

Republic Act No. 1296 which prohibits the importation of onions, potatoes, garlic and cabbages except for seedling purposes, and provides penalties for the violation thereof; Republic Act 8800, or the Safeguard Measures Act, which seeks to protect local agriculture products against imported surges and actively support the initiatives of the local vegetable industry; and the recently passed House Resolution 507, underlining the grave threat posed by cheap imports to the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Filipino vegetable farmers and their families, the domestic vegetable industry and the country's food security Angara said that we still need to remain vigilant.

"Our local onion industry and the livelihood of thousands of Filipino vegetable farmers hang in the balance. I urge the Senate to hold an investigation into the onion smuggling, probe into the workings of the responsible government agencies, and protect the domestic vegetable industry from such grave threats," said Angara.

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