Piñol’s plan to legalize rice smuggling very disturbing, says Robredo | Inquirer News
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Piñol’s plan to legalize rice smuggling very disturbing, says Robredo

/ 03:06 PM August 29, 2018
leni robredo

Vice President Leni Robredo. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / JAM STA ROSA

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol’s plan to legalize rice smuggling in some areas in Mindanao was “disturbing,” Vice President Leni Robredo criticized Wednesday.

On Tuesday Piñol bared a plan to legalize smuggling in the Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi (Zambasulta) area to fight rice smuggling.

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“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.

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But Robredo questioned why there was a need to legalize smuggling if there’s no problem in the rice supply in the country, which Piñol earlier claimed.

“Iyong sa akin, kung ang claim walang problema sa supply, bakit kailangan iyong smuggling?” she asked in an interview at the House of Representatives.

(For me, if there is a claim that there is no problem in the supply, why are we veering toward smuggling?)

“Para manggaling iyong statement na iyon sa isang opisyal ng pamahalaan at kinatawan ng ating Pangulo, nakakabahala ito,” she added.

(Coming from an official of the government and representing the President, this is very disturbing.)

Robredo also chided Piñol for saying that farmers are benefitting from high prices of rice.

“… (P)aiba-iba iyong statements. Halimbawa, sinasabi na iyong nakikinabang sa pataas na presyo ng bigas iyong ating mga magsasaka. Para sa akin, insensitive ito—insensitive sa kahirapan na pinagdadaanan ng ordinaryong pamilyang Pilipino. Alam natin kung gaano kahirap, lalo na sa pinaka-mahihirap na pamilya, iyong napakataas na presyo ng bigas,” she lamented.

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READ: Villar: Legalizing rice smuggling will only encourage more smuggling

For the second-highest official of the country, agriculture government officials should acknowledge the problem first, take responsibility for it, and make necessary actions.

“Iyong sa akin sana, imbis na gagawa ng mga statement na ganito, una, tanggapin na may problema; pangalawa, umako ng responsibilidad,” she said.

The Vice President added: “Pangatlo, may assurance man lamang sana na ginagawa ng pamahalaan iyong lahat para masugpo iyong problema sa lalong madaling panahon, kasi lalong humahaba iyong usapin, lalong hindi naghahanap ng solusyon.” /jpv

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