SENATOR Nancy Binay today spoke in defense of Navotas Mayor Toby Tiangco, saying the inclusion of the mayor’s name in a Senate committee report is a result of “failed” intelligence.
Binay said Tiangco has been “very active” and vocal about smuggling and diversion of marine and aquatic products in Navotas City, which are being imported by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
“Napaka-imposible at no way na maging protector si Mayor Toby. I know him personally and I believe his name shouldn’t have been in the list in the first place. Sa totoo lang, ever since, sobrang active ni Mayor Toby laban diyan sa pagpuslit ng mga BFAR imported products. Sa mga nangyayaring milagro doon sa mga entry points sa Navotas, si Mayor mismo ang sumulat sa DA [Department of Agriculture] para i-report ang smuggling – pero ‘dedma’ lang ang DA. Ang city government na mismo ang nag-file ng mga kaso sa DOJ [Department of Justice] laban sa smugglers dahil nga parang walang pakialam ang DA. So, ganito na ba ang intel natin – all of a sudden we turn the table against the whistleblower?” the senator pointed out.
The senator from Makati said she is set to file a resolution calling for an inquiry on the reported smuggling in the fisheries sector and what should be done to help and support fisherfolks and the fishing industry.
“Sa pagbubukas ng 19th Congress, dapat mapag-usapang muli ang problema natin sa industriya ng pangingisda at pamamalakaya. Balak kong mag-file ng mga resolusyon kung paano natin matutulungan ang ating mga mangingisda, at paano solusyunan ang problema sa smuggling. Kailangan ng mas malalim at mas focused na diskusyon at talakayan kung anong naging problema ng mga mangingisda; ano na ba ang nangyayari sa modernisasyon sa ilalim ng AFMA, at iba pa,” the senator noted.
Binay, however, said she hopes that the smuggling problem in the DA and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) be immediately addressed by the incoming administration.
“Pagdating sa usapin sa problema ng smuggling, kailangan ng convergence from all government agencies – local and national. This way, we can prevent smuggled food products and inputs get through our ports and borders. Pero ayusin muna natin ang binibigay nating impormasyon dahil nakasalalay doon ang laban kontra smuggling,” the senator said.
From 2016 to 2022, about 103 cases related to agricultural smuggling, with a total value of P1.35 billion smuggled products, have been filed.
On record, the National Prosecution Service filed agricultural smuggling-related cases only against four people – one of the cases has been dismissed due to lack of evidence. Camille P. Balagtas