Philippine House Passes Anti-Agri-fishery Smuggling Bill to Protect Local Farmers
The House of Representatives in the Philippines has passed House Bill 9284, also known as the Anti-Agri-fishery Commodities and Tobacco Economic Sabotage Act of 2023. This bill aims to bolster the existing Anti-Agricultural Smuggling law by imposing stricter penalties against large-scale smuggling, hoarding, profiteering, cartelizing, and other forms of market manipulation involving agri-fishery commodities or tobacco. Furthermore, it seeks to penalize government officials or employees who are involved in or condone these illegal activities.
Endorsed by 289 lawmakers with no opposition or abstentions, the bill defines the aforementioned illicit activities as economic sabotage. Economic sabotage refers to actions that undermine, weaken or discredit the economic system or viability of the country. This legislation was certified as urgent by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., highlighting the government’s commitment to addressing this issue.
Under the new bill, the punishment for those found guilty of economic sabotage includes life imprisonment and a significant fine. This fine is calculated as six times the fair market value of the agri-fishery commodities or tobacco involved. Additionally, the total amount of taxes, duties, and other charges evaded are included, along with interest at the current legal rate.
Strong Warning to Illicit Traders
House Speaker Martin Romualdez has issued a stern warning to those involved in smuggling, hoarding, and cartel activities, stating that their days are numbered. He expressed his commitment to fully implementing the provisions of the new bill to prosecute those involved in these illegal activities. These activities, according to Romualdez, have led to the suffering of the Filipino people.
Promoting Affordable Produce and Food Self-Sufficiency
Romualdez also stated that the bill aligns with President Marcos’ aspirations for affordable produce and food self-sufficiency in the country. By curbing smuggling and other illicit trade practices, the government aims to stabilize the market prices of agri-fishery commodities and tobacco, making these products more affordable for consumers. Furthermore, the bill is expected to support the country’s goal of achieving food self-sufficiency by protecting the interests of local farmers and fishermen.
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