MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Committee of the Whole is set to launch an investigation on the alleged large-scale smuggling of agricultural products in the country on December 14.
This is after Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s privilege speech in the plenary where he talked about the ongoing corruption in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and rampant incidents of smuggling that affect farmers and the agricultural sector.
Sotto said that based on the BOC’s press releases, it has conducted 25 anti-smuggling operations from May to November this year that amounted close to Php1 billion.
Sotto said, however, these reports do not match the actual number of cases the agency files in court.
“If we are to base the efficacy of our fight against smuggling on the press releases of the Bureau of Customs, it seems like we are on top of the issue. But the big problem is, mukhang hangang PR lang talaga ang pagsugpo sa agricultural products smuggling,” Sotto said.
The BOC, in response, acknowledged Sotto’s pointing out of the discrepancy in their records.
BOC spokesperson Atty. Vincent Maronilla said they are ready to face any investigation that will shed light on the issues against their anti-agricultural smuggling efforts.
“We’re thankful to Sen. Sotto for bringing this concern of some disconnect in our records sa PRs namin and our records of cases filed,” Maronilla said.
“We’re open to any inquiry so we can thresh out whatever inconsistencies in our record or whatever clarifications might be needed in terms of our anti-agriculture smuggling efforts,” he added.
He also assured that they will file cases against whoever will be involved in smuggling.
“Lahat ng may involvement kinakasuhan namin. At the least pinasasagot sila kung may makitang pagkukulang on their part,” the BOC official said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)