In close coordination with the Office of Benguet lawmaker Eric Go Yap, six containers containing misdeclared vegetable cargos were seized by a government joint task force led by the Bureau of Customs (BoC) last week at the New Container Terminal in Subic Bay in Zambales.
The recent haul worth P30 million, according to Yap, is a testament of his relentless prodding to the BoC in curbing vegetable smuggling which has been affecting Benguet farmers.
BoC in its report said the six containers: AAMU4000686, SEGU9892951, SZLU6034551, BMOU9793437, SEGU9656961 and SZLU5013240 were inspected by joint officials from the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and seaport personnel.
According to the BoC, the containers were labeled as mixed dimsum from China but was later on discovered as assorted vegetables.
A warrant seizure and detention of the cargos were issued in violation of the Customs Modernization and Tariff’s Act and DA order no. 18 series of 2000 and RA 1086.
Two more containers, believed to have smuggled vegetables, consigned to the same company are currently being held for examination.
Dispelling rumors of his inaction against smuggling, Yap in a forum with members of the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC) Truckers and Traders Association said he had earlier sought for a Congressional inquiry on the continuing smuggling of vegetables but did not push through.
Though Yap said he did not stop there and instead went directly to the BoC and urged them to act on the unabated entry of smuggled vegetables. “Yung inquiry matagal, kaya ang ginawa ko dumiretso ako sa BoC at maganda naman yung result. Eto po yung steps na ginagawa natin and alam ko hind ganun kadaling puksain ang smuggling,” said Yap.
The Benguet lawmaker meanwhile told vegetable stakeholders in the province that individuals who are suspected to be in cahoots with smugglers were already relieved. “Yung sinabi ko na mga kasabwat sa smuggling, na relieve na po sa kanilang puwesto at pinalitan. Etong pagbabantay sa smuggling, walang katapusan. Kailangan sipagan ang pagbabantay,” Yap added.
The solon meanwhile said aside from the continuous and vigilant monitoring of entry of smuggled vegetables, Yap said, other long-term solution are being laid out to help farmers in Benguet. Thes includes the construction of farm to market roads in the province. “Nung dumating ako ng Benguet noong 2020, nakita ko, two kilometers every year lang ang nagagawa na farm to market road. Yung two kilometers nagawa nating 40 kilometers at ngayong 2022, 40 kilometers ulit,” Yap told truckers and traders.