Arceo: ‘Sanitizing’

The Bureau of Customs had been busy cracking down on suspected sugar smugglers. Two warehouses in Bulacan were raided recently for allegedly storing hoarded sugar.

Malacanang has identified the owner as Victor Chua. Customs agents discovered around 25,000 to 30,000 sacks of different kinds of sugar in his warehouses.

Around 7,021 metric tons or 6.4 million kilos of sugar from Thailand was also seized at the Subic Port recently after Customs agents learned that the importers have used recycled permits.

The Marcos administrations’ action to curb smuggling not only on sugar but also on other agricultural produce like high-value crops and vegetables is a welcome move for local farmers.

Smuggling has crippled the agriculture sector for the longest time because local farmers cannot compete with the low prices of smuggled produce. The unfair market competition

gravely affects the local producers like the farmers of Benguet. Last February, the League of Associations at the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Area held a series of protest rallies, strongly urging the government to take action against smuggling.

Benguet farmers are allegedly losing P2.5 million per day due to unfair competition. The government also loses millions of pesos in taxes due to smuggled products.

President Bongbong Marcos is expected to show consistency on these crackdowns if only to clean-up corruption inside the agriculture industry. Being the acting Cabinet secretary of the Department of Agriculture, much is expected from him. Although he earlier announced the plan to increase local food production and help farmers through agri-technologies, inputs and financial capitalization, the President needs to cut down corruption and shake syndicates to protect the local producers.

The syndicated cartels are also manipulating the market on garlic, onion, rice and other agricultural produce. Removing and prosecuting these cartels is indeed challenging but not impossible.

The President's political will will be tested in time. He must deliver or else everyone will see that it could only be a propaganda. A lot of Filipinos who did not vote for him are giving him the chance to prove himself worthy. The 14 million voters who favored former Vice President Leni Robredo represent a big number in our population. And each one of them is closely watching the President.


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