House bill cracks down on agricultural smuggling
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has passed on final reading a measure that pushed for harsher penalties and expanded the scope of economic sabotage to include the large-scale smuggling, hoarding, profiteering, and cartelizing of agri-fishery and tobacco products.
Past midnight on Wednesday, 289 the House unanimously voted to approve on third reading two proposed laws — the Agri-Fishery Commodities and the Tobacco Economic Sabotage Act of 2023.
The bill’s passage on final reading came hours after the House received an urgent certification from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on the immediate enactment of the measure.
It sought to amend Republic Act 10845, or the 2016 Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act by proposing harsh penalties against economic sabotage through agricultural smuggling.
In a statement on Tuesday night, Rep. Mark Enverga chair of the House agriculture and food committee, said House Bill (HB) No. 9283 also pushed to improve law enforcement, case buildup, and prosecution of acts of market abuse considered as economic sabotage.
“Through HB 9284, increasing the certainty of being arrested, prosecuted, tried, and convicted would be the best deterrent and adversely impact against the operations of smugglers, hoarders, and profiteers. We have improved the chances of finally convicting smugglers,” Enverga said.
Speaker Martin Romualdez said the bill “will help realize the president’s aspirations of affordable produce and food self-sufficiency” and that “its unanimous passage speaks volumes.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Romualdez told smugglers, hoarders, and those involved in cartels that their days “are numbered.”
The bill set the new minimum threshold for hoarding, profiteering, cartels, and other acts of market abuse involving agri-fishery products at P2.5 million.
HB 9284 proposed to amend RA 10845 by including large-scale smuggling, hoarding, profiteering, cartelizing, and other acts of market abuse as acts of economic sabotage.