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To stop agricultural smuggling, the DA asks for DOJ assistance.

As it seeks assistance from the Department of Justice, the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced on Monday that it is currently working on legal ways to successfully combat agricultural smuggling (DOJ).

Following its successful anti-smuggling operations, the DA is going after five consignees, according to DA Assistant Secretary James Layug during a news briefing.

Actually, the agricultural products that we illegally seize number about PHP500 million, according to our running total (seized by us). At the same time, there are about five consignees who are expected to be charged under (Republic Act) 10845, also known as the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, the official prosecutor stated.

The two people detained in Quirino province and the three people detained at the Isabela warehouse, where 30 stockings of hybrid seeds were being sold, were mentioned as examples of the consignees for whom the DA will use “all legal measures” to pursue them.

According to Layug, charges for estafa, misappropriation of public funds, and violations of the Anti-Fencing Law and the Consumers Act would be brought against the consignees.

The DA will also investigate any potential involvement of government employees in unlawful acts.

In order to handle the legal side of stopping these known smugglers, Layug said, “We are also cooperating with the Department of Justice, with Secretary (Jesus Crispin) Remulla. However, we still have to operate within the law.”

DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban added that even if his department was not given the opportunity to clearly identify the 20 traffickers, they will nonetheless be on the lookout for them.

We are in charge of looking into where the location is, he said, “in different parts of Metro Manila, Pampanga, Subic, Ilocos Norte, Bicol, Visayas, Tacloban, Cebu, Iloilo, and then in Zamboanga, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and Cotabato.”

Layug asked Filipinos to report illegal activity and work with the DA to “strengthen domestic production” and curb smuggling.

He added, “Let’s support one another. If you have any knowledge, or our people, magtulung-tulong tayo.”

No importation of onions

In contrast, Panganiban claimed that despite the current shortage of onions, the DA will not order their importation.

He stated that the current harvest season, which is anticipated to meet demand next year, would negate the need for the transfer.

Not sapat, I say. It’s truly kulang, which means “not enough, terribly inadequate.” However, we will be harvesting next month. Therefore, he asked, “Why import when we would have enough for the following month, which is January and February of 2023?

The DA added that because the newly seized smuggled onions failed the phytosanitary inspection, they will not be sold to Kadiwa sites.

Because they are infected, the Bureau of Plant Industry has confiscated imported sibuyas (onions), according to Domingo.

Kadiwa Holiday

The DA also let the public know that in order to accommodate the holidays, its Kadiwa ng Pasko operations will be temporarily suspended on December 24 and 25.

“Sana po bilhin na nila sa 23, since ako po’yung mga iluluto ko sa 24 ay nabili ko na sa 23, so sana po ganun,” the speaker said. However, I hope that people will start buying after Christmas, starting as early as December 23. For instance, I need to have purchased the things I’ll need to cook on December 24 on December 23. However, the Kadiwa will begin after Christmas in time for the New Year, according to DA Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista.

Evangelista added that the DA and local governments are collaborating closely to expand the number of venues and the frequency of operations.

The DA wants to open at least three Kadiwa locations in each city in Metro Manila alone, while over 400 food terminals are being explored for the provinces.

She claimed that local producers gain from the Kadiwa sites and the trading money provided to them, which ranges from PHP1 million to PHP5 million.

She said that the daily sales at Kadiwa ng Pasko might surpass PHP300,000.

At least 11 farmer cooperatives in diverse locations are currently served by the DA.

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