Should he return to the Senate, former Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said he will investigate reports of agricultural smuggling and other anomalies surrounding the importation of agricultural goods.
“Di natin mapapataas ang lokal na sektor ng agrikultura kung patuloy ang pagpasok at pang-angkat at pag-import ng mga produkto, whether smuggled or not,” he said in a media briefing in Northern Samar.
“Kailangan talaga, kung sakaling ako’y makakabalik, ay imbestigahan talaga ‘yan. Bakit tuloy-tuloy ang importation? Alam naman natin kung bakit. Talagang may anomalya na nangyayari,” he added.
Ejercito said the persistence of agricultural smuggling despite the enactment of the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Law, which he principally authored, continues to burden farmers and agricultural workers, who are forced to contend with the influx of smuggled goods.
“Dapat maging self-sustaining tayo. We want to support local agriculture. Ang problema, through the years, pag pumapasok ang smuggled na bigas, halimbawa, bagsak ang presyo ng palay,” he said.
“Kawawa ang magsasaka. Mababa na ang kanilang kita, pag pumasok ang smuggled na bigas, lalong babagsak at lalong walang kikitain,” he added.
The former Senator said the law considers agricultural smuggling as a form of economic sabotage.
“Pag wala silang kita, ang ekonomiya natin, mas mabagal ang takbo. Siyempre, mababawasan ang purchasing power ng tao. So it’s considered economic sabotage,” Ejercito said.
Aside from curbing agricultural smuggling, Ejercito said the national government should avoid granting additional authorities to import, which he dubbed as a legalized form of smuggling.
“Yung mga ahensya, kaliwa’t kanan naman ang pagbigay ng authority to import. So, nalegalize na nila yung smuggling,” he said.
Instead of promoting imports, Ejercito said the government can support farmers by purchasing their agricultural goods. “Kung magtataas ang presyo ng bigas natin, pwede ‘yan i-subsidize ng gobyerno. Bilhin muna yung sa farmers bago tayo mag-import. Dapat naman talaga ganun,” he said.