Implementation of anti agri economic sabotage law awaited

Stakeholders await implementation of anti agri economic sabotage law

/ 07:49 AM June 10, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — The ratification of the Bicameral Conference Committee Report on the Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage bill by the Senate signals the government’s determination to eradicate the smuggling of agricultural products.

The bill classifies the smuggling and hoarding of agricultural and fishery products, including tobacco, as economic sabotage, which carries severe sanctions.

The reconciled version of the bills was ratified on May 22, 2024, before the Senate adjourned sine die.


READ: Senate ratifies bicam reports of 3 priority measures


John Freda, general manager of JTI Philippines, said the imminent enactment of the bill sends a strong message to smugglers and their accomplices about the government’s serious commitment to addressing the worsening problem of illicit tobacco trade.

“Once the law is ready for full implementation by the mandated agencies, the government has an additional potent weapon in its arsenal to wage war against smuggling syndicates,” Freda said.

For tobacco, the bill considers the smuggling of the crop and cigarettes worth at least P3 million an act of economic sabotage, a non-bailable offense.

Tobacco smuggling, according to Freda, deprives the government of much-needed tax revenues and impacts society, consumers, and legitimate businesses.

P60B to P100B lost yearly due to tobacco smuggling

He pointed out that the illicit tobacco trade in the Philippines is growing at alarming levels, posing a significant threat to the nation’s economy, particularly the agricultural sector. Estimates from Congress and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) suggest that foregone revenue due to illicit tobacco trade ranges from P60 billion to P100 billion annually.

Freda highlighted that cigarette smuggling is a complex issue affecting various industries, sectors, and agencies. It impacts agriculture, tobacco farmers, tobacco-growing local government units (LGUs), retailers, consumers, law enforcement units, and revenue collection agencies.


READ: House bill wants tobacco smuggling classified as economic sabotage

Under the proposed law, tobacco smuggling as economic sabotage will carry stiffer penalties, including life imprisonment and a fine thrice the value of the agricultural and fishery products involved in the crime.

This bill repeals the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, adding tobacco—in both raw and finished forms—to the list of products subject to economic sabotage, alongside rice, sugar, corn, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, fish, and cruciferous vegetables.

The Senate version of the bill was authored by Sen. Cynthia Villar, while the House bill was jointly filed by Reps. Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” Marcos and Margarita Ignacia B. Nograles.

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JTI Philippines had been advocating for stiffer sanctions against cigarette smuggling, which has become more rampant even during the COVID-19 pandemic despite intensified law enforcement actions.

This article was generated with the aid of artificial intelligence and reviewed by an editor.

TAGS: agricultural products, AI Generated Content, Smuggling

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