By Mortz C. Ortigoza
DAGUPAN CITY – The smuggling of sugar this year proliferates after the media and government have been hot on the trail of rice smugglers, the Samahan ng Industriya at Agrikulura (SINAG) chairman said.
Engineer Rosendo So cited that a huge numbers of bags of sugar have been seized by government enforcers on their drive to curve the seemingly unabated smuggling of the commodity.
“The smugglers have been avoiding rice trading because the media and the government are vigilant against them,” he told media men last Thursday at the forum of the Kapisanan ng Broadcasters sa Pilipinas (KBP).
He wished that the law that would punish and penalize heavily smugglers would be implemented soon.
So, the chair of Abono Party-list too, aggressively lobbies with the government to make P5 million worth of smuggled goods a non-bailable crime.
“We target P4 to P5 million as an accumulated worth of the smuggled agricultural products. It means if a smuggler has shipments in the cities of Davao, Zamboanga , and Manila they are accumulated already and should be punished by law, “ he stressed.
He wished that the version of the Abono Party in the House of Representatives and the versions of Senators Cynthia Villars, Grace Poe, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito for the P5 million cap will be passed by Congress and signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III before his term ends next year.
Smugglers of sugar that prejudice Filipino sugar planters are a scourge because of the cheap sugar in Thailand and the slashing of tariff of the commodity due to the Asian Free Trade Agreement (AFTA).
Due to the aggressive support of the Thailand government to its sugar farmers, one kilo of white sugar there cost P25 a kilo while its counterpart in the Philippines sells P40 a kilo.
“Smuggling of sugar swell thus we saw some apprehension these days,” So said.
A financier of small scale sugar planters in Tarlac and Pangasinan told Northern Watch that the price of white refined sugar bought from the planters by traders plunged from P2, 400 to P1, 700 per sack with 50 kilos content.
Noel Valdez, who is also into trucking with sugar planters, said that farmers in the two provinces lament the plunged of prices and blamed the 5% mandated tariff of AFTA and the unabated smuggling as the cause to the hardship of sugar planters.
AFTA has been implemented last January 1, 2015 among 10 members Asean countries where tariff of products among these countries have been lowered if not totally eradicated.