SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go called on authorities to act on the allegations of a smuggling scheme involving vegetables from China in keeping with the Duterte Administration’s clampaign to combat corruption and boost transparency along the country’s borders.
A member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Go strongly denounced reports of a80 possible collusion involving certain government personnel and called for urgent action on the issue during an interview after a relief operation for fire victims in Taguig City on Tuesday, March 29.
“Dapat lumabas ang katotohanan. Alam niyo si Pangulong (Rodrigo Duterte) galit sa korapsyon. Isa talaga sa tinutukan niya ang kampanya laban sa korapsyon sa gobyerno. Itong nababalitaan, isa pa rin sa problema ang (Bureau of Customs), habang nandiyan ang korapsyon ay hindi aasenso ang ating bansa,” emphasized Go.
“Dapat kasuhan at ikulong kung sino man ang involved. Wala ng kadala-dala ang mga opisyales kung totoo man na may nagpapalusot ng smuggling diyan sa customs,” he continued.
During a hearing by the Senate Committee of the Whole the previous day, March 28, lawmakers criticized the BOC and Department of Agriculture for their alleged inaction. The League of Associations at La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Areas claimed that Filipino farmers lost an estimated PhP2.5 million per day after orders declined by up to 40% in 2022 due to the influx of smuggled vegetables in the market.
In his interview, the senator reminded the agriculture department to protect the welfare of Filipino farmers who were already struggling long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He called on fellow government workers and other citizens with information to come forward without fear of reprisal, assuring them of protection and confidentiality.
Finally, Go reiterated that he and President Duterte are one in the fight against corruption. If any wrongdoing is proven, he appealed that cases be filed immediately against those found guilty so they could be held accountable and punished.
“Kaya nga mayroon tayong Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission na nakatutok sa mga katiwalian sa gobyerno. (Department of Agriculture) naman, protektahan niyo dapat ang mga local farmers natin. Unahin niyo ang Pilipino, huwag ang kita ng mga smugglers,” appealed Go.
“Pakiusap ko sa BOC at DA, unahin niyo ang interes ng ating mga kababayan, lalong-lalo na mga mahihirap, ‘wag interes ng mga smugglers,” he reiterated.
As the then Special Assistant to the President, Go established the Truth and Justice Coalition in partnership with PACC in 2018 with the aim of giving citizens an avenue to join in the campaign against graft and corruption.
The initiative assists with fact-finding inquiries, lifestyle checks and other investigations and works in close collaboration with lawyers, retired public officials, the private sector, and other government institutions, among others.