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May 26, 2024 Camille P. Balagtas 134 views

THE hardship suffered by farmers and consumers due to cartels, hoarding and profiteering will soon be over as the Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Act is closer to becoming a law.

Before the 2nd Regular Session of the 19th Congress adjourned last Wednesday, the Senate ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Act.

“The measure intends to repeal the seven-year old Republic Act No. 10845, or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act and introduce several nefarious acts other than smuggling, such as, hoarding, profiteering, cartel of agricultural and fisheries products,” said Senator Nancy Villar.

Villar, principal author and sponsor of the measure, stressed that this is an act of self-preservation against the manipulative scheme of economic saboteurs and the protection of farmers’ livelihood.

This is also a protection of the State from tax evaders and non-payers of duties. This will ensure the well-being of our agricultural producers, consumers, and the whole economy,” she emphasized.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 2432 or the Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Bill last December and has been certified as urgent by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

On March 20, both Houses of Congress went into a pre-bicam conference for the bill.

Salient features of the Act are: 1. The creation of the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Task Force directly under the control and supervision of the Office of the President; 2. Creation of an Enforcement Group which shall have the authority to visit areas where the agricultural and fisheries products are located on the strength of a Letter of Authority (LoA), issued by the Executive Committee of the Council; 3 Creation of the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Court under the jurisdiction of the Court of Tax Appeal; 4. Creation of a Special Team of Prosecutors from the DOJ for the expeditious prosecution of cases involving agri-economic sabotage; 5. Creation under the DA of the Daily Price Index Monitoring Office, established and maintained by the AMAS and the BAR to monitor and report on the prices of enumerated agricultural products in all the regions of country; 6. Covered agricultural products: rice, corn, beef, pork, poultry, garlic, onion, carrots, other vegetables, fruits, fish, salt, and other aquatic products, in their raw state or which has under gone simple process of preservation, until post-harvest stage of the supply chain; palm oil, palm oleic, raw and refined sugar and tobacco; 7. Establishment of the long delayed National Single Window System; 8. Also included are : financing of agricultural economic sabotage crimes enumerated in this Act, use of government storage facilities for the purpose of act enumerated; herein, and illegal acts of the enforcement group as enumerated in the Act; and 9. Any person may directly file a criminal complaint with the DOJ Special Team of Prosecutors and/or Administrative Complaint with the appropriate government agency, which shall be verified and supported with affidavits or a Citizen’s suit.

Co-authors of Villar of this bill were Senators Padilla, Revilla, Jr., Marcos, Lapid, Tulfo, Dela Rosa, Ejercito, Villanueva, Hontiveros and Legarda.