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Bill designating tobacco smuggling as economic sabotage is approved by the House

A resolution to label the importation of tobacco goods as “economic sabotage” was passed by the House of Representatives on Monday with 225 votes.

House Bill (HB) No. 3917, which was primarily written by Sandro Marcos, senior deputy majority leader and representative for the Ilocos Norte 1st District, and Margarita Nograles, a representative for the PBA Party-list, seeks to amend Sections 3 and 4 of Republic Act (RA) No. 10845, also known as The Anti-agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.

The law will classify tobacco products, whether they are raw or finished, in the same category as other agricultural products including sugar, corn, pig, chicken, carrots, onions, garlic, and cruciferous vegetables.

Importing goods into the Philippines without the necessary import permit from the regulatory agencies, using import permits of persons, natural or juridical, other than those specifically named in the permit, or using fake, fictitious, or fraudulent import permits or shipping documents are examples of the crime of large-scale smuggling as economic sabotage.

According to HB 3917, the broker, agent, facilitator, forwarder, or warehouse lessor of the violating importer also commits the crime. It is also permitted to use a private port, fish port, fish landing site, resort, and/or airport to continue economic sabotage, regardless of its scale.

The registered owner and its lessee or charterer of a chartered boat, truck, or warehouse, or the president or chief executive officer of the private port, fish port, fish landing sites, or resorts, who knowingly permits tobacco smuggling into the country, shall each be subject to a sentence of imprisonment of 30 to 40 years, a fine of twice the fair value, and the total amount of the taxes, duties, and other charges avoided by the smuggled tobacco.

Additionally, the crime shall be ruled non-bailable.

Additionally, according to HB 3917, if the criminal is a public servant or employee, they will face the harshest punishment possible.

Additionally, the perpetrator will be permanently barred from holding public office, casting a ballot, and taking part in public elections.

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