DA’s intelligence unit eyeing crackdown vs agri smugglers by Q1 2024
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Intelligence and Enforcement Unit may begin chasing down individuals involved in agricultural smuggling by the first quarter of 2024, the agency’s chief confirmed on Tuesday.
Agriculture chief Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. disclosed this at the Committee on Appointments’ deliberation on his appointment as the DA secretary.
“Your honor, basically we have those names of the people that were usual suspects. I have a new Intelligence and Enforcement Unit who are verifying everything, so maybe by the first quarter of next year, we will be moving it already,” said Laurel.
Senator Grace Poe then asked the DA chief whether President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who used to head the agency, had disclosed to him the names of individuals involved in agricultural smuggling.
“Your Honor, yes, a few,” Laurel answered.
When asked if they were planning to file a case against these erring individuals, Laurel said yes.
“Kasi actually, Secretary — kung masampolan lang ang isa o dalawa, hihina ang loob ng iba kasi nagkaroon na ng exhibit A ng example. So ‘yun lang siguro ang hinihintay natin para magkaroon ng ngipin ang batas,” said Poe.
(Because, Secretary, if only one or two of them are nabbed, others will be discouraged from illegal activities because there is already exhibit A as an example. So maybe that’s all we’re waiting for: the law to have teeth.)
President Marcos earlier certified Senate Bill No. 2432, otherwise known as the Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Act, as urgent.
The measure, which seeks to repeal the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, aims to end acts of smuggling, hoarding, profiteering, and cartel of agricultural and fishery products.
Penalties for these crimes include life imprisonment and a fine thrice the value of the agricultural and fishery products involved.