Palace denies alleged inter-agency conspiracy on vegetable smuggling
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday denied a supposed conspiracy between the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the smuggling of vegetables into the country.
Cabinet Secretary and acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a briefing there is no inter-agency collusion as both the BOC and DA were actually working together to curb vegetable smuggling.
The remark of Nograles was in response to a request for his reaction on Senator Panfilo Lacson’s statement in a Senate hearing, where the lawmaker said there may be a conspiracy between the two agencies amid the smuggling of vegetables into the country.
“Wala pong inter-agency conspiracy na nangyayari (There is no inter-agency conspiracy happening). The Bureau of Customs and the Department of Agriculture are working together para ma-curb po itong smuggling ng gulay (to curb vegetable smuggling)—smuggling per se,” Nograles said.
Nograles then called on the public to cooperate with the government should they have information about smuggling.
“Napaka-importante po ng kooperasyon at mga information na pwedeng ma-supply ng ating mga kababayan. Kung mayroon po kayong nalalaman about smuggling, whether sa gulay pa ‘yan o sa ibang bagay ay agad pong isumbong sa kinauukulan. Mayroon po tayong hotline 8888,” he said.
(The public’s cooperation and information are very important. If you have information about smuggling, whether vegetables or other products, immediately call authorities. We have a hotline 8888.)
In October, an alliance of farmers’ groups in the Cordillera region, Alyansa Dagiti Pesante iti Taéng Kordilyéra (Apit Tako), called for stronger protection of local farmers amid smuggling concerns.
They are blaming the government’s trade liberalization policies for the widespread vegetable smuggling of “cheap” and “unsafe” agricultural products.