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Tolentino promises to stop agricultural smuggling.

As he promised to find ways to strengthen the judicial system that will prosecute smugglers in the nation, Senator Francis Tolentino stated on Tuesday that the government is serious about combating smuggling.

Tolentino stated during the joint hearing of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Food, and Agriculture that smugglers are still commonplace in the nation despite Republic Act 10845, also known as the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, having been signed into law.

Even if we passed RA 10845, smuggling would still occur, he claimed, harming our local farmers.

Tolentino suggests that one option is to establish special courts in Bulacan, Manila, Cebu, and Davao City, each with the exclusive purpose of prosecuting smugglers. However, this is a complex solution that would cost a lot of money, so a comprehensive investigation is required first.

Instead of setting up special courts, the National Bureau of Investigation suggested that the Regional Trial Courts consider cases involving smuggling.

The head of the Samahan ng Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), Rosendo So, testified before the Senate committee that smuggling has been going on since the previous administrations, with the Manila Port leading the way, followed by the Subic Port, Batangas City Port, Davao City, and Cebu.

According to Tolentino, agricultural supplies are smuggled using a layering technique, which involves concealing the contraband in layers and using an “ukay-ukay” channel.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, meantime, declared that she would support any changes made to anti-smuggling legislation to ensure a successful campaign against it.

She stated that the revisions will include collusion, price-fixing, and hoarding as economic sabotage, which is a non-bailable charge.

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