“WE regret that the Department of Agriculture [DA] was described as the “mother of all smuggling.”
This was the reaction issued by the agriculture department to the statement of Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda during the hearing of the House Committee on Ways and Means on palm oil smuggling that the DA is the “mother of all smuggling.”
In the said hearing, Salceda, who chairs the said committee, claimed that the government revenue loss of some P45 billion as a result of the misdeclaration of palm oil as animal feeds worth P300 billion, supposed to be slapped with a 15-percent duty.
In a press statement, DA Secretary stressed that he will not tolerate corruption in his turf, which he has been advocating since day 1 of his assumption of DA leadership in late 2019.
In fact, Dar said that he has already formed an investigation committee to look into the matter.
“Smuggling is a serious offense. It is tantamount to economic sabotage,” Dar stressed.
He also asked the assistance of other government agencies to rid the scourge of smuggling of agricultural products as it will require inter-agency efforts to succeed in this campaign.
However, Dar explained that although the description is regrettable, the DA still fully supports the intent of the congressional hearing and is cooperating with the efforts of the House Committee to get to the bottom of the issue, with the end-view of addressing any loophole in our Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) systems.
“In fact, we have been investigating the alleged smuggling of palm oil as animal feeds but is processed as cooking oil for human consumption as early as last year. Palm oil as animal feeds is imposed zero tariffs and is not classified as a product to be imposed a 12 percent e-VAT,” Dar added in the press statement.
As DA has no police power to apprehend and prosecute suspected smugglers, it sought the assistance of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), which conducted an investigation in January 2022, wherein the report was submitted to Dar on Feb. 7, 2022.
Dar, meanwhile, disclosed that among the measures being implemented in their efforts to fight the smuggling of agricultural products include the tightening of their protocols, requirements, and monitoring of SPSIC issuance this includes computerization; working with other agencies in going after smugglers Sub-Task Group on Economic Intelligence (STG-EI) this is to complement the limitation of DA in terms of legal mandate and police power to go after smugglers.
Also implemented measures to improve the productivity and competitiveness of farmers long term through investing in infrastructure, postharvest and processing facilities, and improving the yield and quality of farmers’ produce.