CRIMINAL charges are being readied against consignees of the P500 million worth of smuggled agricultural products, which were recently confiscated in a series of joint operations conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and several government agencies.
In yesterday’s press conference, James Layug, DA Assistant Secretary for Inspectorate and Enforcement (I&E), disclosed that five consignees will be charged with violating Republic Act (RA) No. 10845 or the Agricultural Smuggling Act before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Layug, however, refused to reveal first the names of the consignees as they are still “collecting all the necessary evidence” in order to solidify the cases against them.
“In due time, we will identify them once the case [is] filed. We need to solidify the case, and it has to be a holistic approach so that we can avert smuggling in the country,” Layug stressed.
Layug added that they will also be coordinating with exporting countries as their support is needed on the documentation being prepared.
He further disclosed that they are not only after the consignees who are engaged in smuggling but will also investigate government employees or officials who might be in cahoots with them.
“We will work within the law and then we will proceed (in identifying those involved) in order to go after them,” Layug explained.
At the same time, Layug appealed to the public to help the government by giving information on this kind of illegal activity.
“Mga kababayan, kung meron po kayong impormasyon na maibabahagi sa amin, sana ay matulungan niyo para matigil natin ang mga saboteur sa pagpapahirap sa ating mga kababayan,” Layug added.
He further disclosed that their operations against agricultural product smuggling continue as they are looking into different provinces in the country, which might be used as entry points for the smuggled goods.
Layug reported that among the smuggled agricultural products that were seized were onions, carrots, potatoes, poultry and meat products.