Villar: Legalizing rice smuggling will only encourage more smuggling
Legalizing rice smuggling in some parts of Mindanao will only encourage further smuggling, Senator Cynthia Villar said on Wednesday.
Villar, who chairs the Senate Agriculture and Food Committee, suggested instead that smuggled rice be given to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for distribution during calamities.
“Bakit hindi nila kunin nalang yung smuggled rice, ibigay nila sa DSWD, and ipamigay nalang ng DSWD?” Villar said.
“Eh kung kinuha mo, ibinigay mo sa DSWD, at everytime may calamity pamimigay ng DSWD doon sa calamity area, nakasave pa yung DSWD sa budget nila,” she added.
Villar added that rice smugglers also win even if the smuggled rice is later auctioned off.
“Kasi ang problem, kapag nahuling smuggling, at pina-bidding nila, ang mananalo doon ay yung nag-smuggle. That’s the problem,” Villar said.
“So in effect, by doing that, inconvenience lang ang cost sa kanila but they still continue their bad practices,” Villar added.
Villar reacted to a remark by Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, who on Tuesday bared a plan to legalize smuggling in the Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (Zambasulta) area.
“Rather than allow smuggling and illegal activity to continue, we might as well legalize it,” Piñol said.
“So my proposal is for the establishment of a rice trading center in Tawi-Tawi, where government would now take full control. You come in, you bring in your rice, you pay a little tariff, never mind if it’s just a token, for as long as we’re able to control the volume of rice coming in,” he added.
However, on rice smuggling in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-tawi, she said “hayaan na lang sila doon.” [Just let them be].
“Hayaan nalang sila doon. Eh sila naman doon, separated naman sila from the Philippines. Can you stop them?” Villar said in an interview with ABS CBN News Channel.
“Even BOC, sinabi that they cannot do it. Sabi niya sakin, there are almost 100 private ports in Zamboanga City, na its impossible for the BOC to control their private ports,” Villar said referring to former BOC chair John Philip Sevilla.
Sevilla resigned from his post as the BOC chief 2015 citing “political pressure.” He was succeeded by Alberto Lina. /muf
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